Wild Bison Return To Wind River Reservation

Nov 7, 2016

Credit Alexis Bonogofsky

For the first time in 130 years, wild bison left their hoof prints on the land on the Wind River Indian Reservation last Thursday.

It’s a goal the Eastern Shoshone tribe say they’ve been working toward for over 70 years. And Wind River Native Advocacy Center Director Jason Baldes has been working toward it his entire career. He said, while only ten young bison were released this time around, the goal is to breed them and eventually grow a larger herd.

“This is not only for ecological restoration, because we’re going to see vegetative changes because of the keystone nature of buffalo, but it’s also a cultural revitalization by reconnecting them with our people,” Baldes said.

Baldes worked in collaboration with the National Wildlife Federation to raise funds to build a $100,000 dollar electric fence for the animals and to obtain pure Yellowstone bison from a conservation herd that have been quarantined to ensure they are disease free.

Baldes says, as the third largest reservation in the country, the Wind River Reservation prides itself on its wildlife.

“Prior to today, we managed six of seven ungulate species as well as the predators that were here when Lewis and Clark got here in 1804,” he said. “Now that we have this guy here on the landscape, we’re managing seven of the seven.”

He said the goal is to breed pure Yellowstone wild bison to help other tribes start their own herds.