Bison recovery has been a conservation success, but more needs to be done
The U.S. Interior Department is working toward restoring American bison populations to tribal lands.
Fox News reports that more than $25 million from the Inflation Reduction Act will fund restoration efforts, according to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who is the first Native American to serve as a U.S. Cabinet secretary.
"This holistic effort will ensure that this powerful, sacred animal is reconnected to its natural habitat and the original stewards who know best how to care for it," Haaland said.
"When we think about indigenous communities, we must acknowledge that they have spent generations over many centuries observing the seasons, tracking wildlife migration patterns, and fully comprehending our role in the delicate balance of this earth," she added.
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American bison were killed almost to extinction in the 1800s. Although their population is bouncing back, they remain absent from most of the grasslands they once occupied.
Haaland said although the animal's recovery over the last 130 years is a "conservation success," bison remain "functionally extinct."
Eighty two tribes now have more than 20,000 bison in 65 herds spanning New York to Oklahoma to Alaska, and the numbers of animals are growing.
Over the past two decades, U.S. agencies have transferred thousands of the animals to tribal lands in an effort to thin government-controlled herds. The transfers were often carried out in cooperation with the South Dakota-based InterTribal Buffalo Council.
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