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Coexisting with Bison

Everybody has heard the expression, “the place the buffalo roam.” However there haven’t at all times been wide-roaming herds. Thousands and thousands of bison roamed the Nice Plains till a mass slaughter started within the early 1800s and by the late 1880s, fewer than 1,000 bison remained. Because of the work of Native American tribes, authorities companies, and conservation teams comparable to Defenders of Wildlife, bison have been making a comeback throughout the West. At present, Yellowstone Nationwide Park is house to the biggest and most genetically pure herd of untamed bison within the nation.

Not surprisingly, wildlife don’t acknowledge boundaries we people designate on maps. As a migratory species, these Yellowstone bison usually cross Park boundaries in the hunt for grass. That’s the reason Defenders continues to combat for common sense bison administration and the growth of year-round habitat in Montana for wild bison that roam exterior of the Park boundaries. That can also be why we work tirelessly with our tribal companions to determine new wild bison populations elsewhere throughout the West. Progress has been sluggish however regular; Montana’s present and former governors have expanded areas exterior the Park the place bison are actually allowed to roam as wildlife, and several other tribes are actually establishing bison herds on their lands.
As we work to safe further habitat and locations for bison, Defenders and our conservation companions are additionally working to advertise social acceptance for bison on the panorama and to assist people, landowners, and communities coexist with wildlife.

By the Yellowstone Bison Coexistence Program, we’re doing simply that. With our companions from Larger Yellowstone Coalition, Pure Sources Protection Council, Sierra Membership, and Montana Fish Wildlife, and Parks, Defenders began the Yellowstone Bison Coexistence Program in 2011 as a collaborative effort aimed to assist landowners coexist with wild bison on the panorama exterior the Park.
Working immediately with particular person landowners, livestock producers, and residents, we will forestall property harm from roaming bison within the areas exterior Yellowstone Nationwide Park the place bison usually roam. We offer incentives to assist landowners set up bison fencing round areas of concern to scale back battle with bison on their personal lands. The fencing helps preserve bison away from residences, gardens, and small fields, stopping any unintended harm a 2,000-lb herbivore would possibly trigger. The mixed impact: communities which might be extra accepting of roaming bison. Defenders and our companions compensate landowners 50% (as much as $1,000) of the price of constructing a fence, and we assist present the technical help to put in the fence on their property.

Since we started these fencing tasks in 2010, this common sense answer for residing with roaming bison has been an unbelievable success. Up to now, we’ve accomplished 45 fencing tasks within the Gardiner and Hebgen Basins in Montana and contributed greater than $40,000 in reimbursements and supplies and sure an equal quantity in further undertaking bills comparable to workers time, journey, and many others.

Contributors of this system have been very pleased with the outcomes and we imagine this has been an enormous success in serving to to construct public tolerance and acceptance towards bison on the panorama in Montana. With the potential modifications to future bison administration in addition to new year-round tolerance for bison on the panorama exterior the park, we’ll proceed to develop these efforts to make sure that individuals in these communities have the instruments to efficiently coexist with bison on the panorama.
“This program is a shining instance of conservation teams working immediately with landowners to unravel issues and construct tolerance for our wildlife assets right here in Montana.….for my part this stays a terrific effort.”
-Sam Shepard, Former Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Area three Regional Director
This can be a solution-based program that advantages each individuals on the bottom and wild bison. However don’t simply take our phrase for it. Right here’s what a number of glad landowners have needed to say in regards to the undertaking:
Our 5 acres (north of Yellowstone) is continually utilized by wildlife that our friends very a lot get pleasure from watching. We have now massive submit fencing defending the pine bushes from the bison who wish to rub the low hanging branches to take away their fur. Our fences are nice dialog starters with guests, about how residing with wildlife is a deal with. For the reason that bison fence installment a number of years in the past, the minimal property harm we had earlier than fencing is now zero. And the bison fences even look good!
-Sabina and Greg Strauss, Yellowstone Basin Inn Gardiner, MT
My yard fence has diminished my anxieties and permits me to calm down a bit extra. It’s humorous what a bit elbow grease, wire and wood posts can do for a bunch of associates and neighbors in a small neighborhood like ours.
-Karrie Taggart, Horse Butte/West Yellowstone MT

Bison are a keystone species, serving to to create habitat for a variety of totally different wildlife species, together with grassland birds and even many plant species. As bison forage, they aerate the soil with their hooves, support plant development, disperse native seeds, and assist to keep up a wholesome and balanced ecosystem. Whereas bison are now not threatened with extinction, they continue to be largely “ecologically extinct” and absent from their historic Nice Plains habitat. Substantial work stays to totally restore the species to its ecological and cultural function all through the Nice Plains and we’re grateful for these working with us to advertise coexistence with our nationwide mammal.

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