Bison Return to U.S. After 140 Years

Descendants of a decimated bison herd that was captured and shipped to Canada 140 years ago will be returned to a Native American reservation in Montana next month. Leaders of the Blackfeet Reservation are heralding the repatriation as an important recognition of their traditions, as bison, also known as buffalo, were for centuries integral to their way of life and spirituality. Many of the bison now seen in the U.S. were hunted to near-extinction in the late 1800s, and most alive today live in commercial herds. They are, for the most part, raised for their meat and interbred with cattle. The 89 Plains bison that will return to Montana are said to be free of cattle genes, and will roam freely across more than 4,000 square miles, including the Blackfeet Reservation and Glacier National Park. Brucellosis, the disease found among Yellowstone National Park’s bison herds, is absent from these buffalo, said Park Superintendent Stephen Flemming.