A group of Yellowstone bison may find new homes around the United States soon.
Officials from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks agency released a list of five entities that may receive bison. The exchange would be part of an experiment to foster new herds outside the Park.
According to Ron Aasheim, spokesman for Montana FWP, there were originally ten interested entities. The agency narrowed the list down to five, after seeking counsel from a panel of state, federal and tribal officials.
The bison, about 145 head, have been living on a Bozeman-area ranch, owned by media mogul Ted Turner, at the behest of the state. Holdovers of a 2005-06 quarantine, these Yellowstone bison were originally captured so they could be tested for brucellosis.
Turner has held bison since 1989, when he bought the 113,000-acre Flying D Ranch. His holdings—spread across seven states—have grown to 55,000, or 11 percent of the world’s bison population. Compare this to the estimated 4,600 living in Yellowstone National Park, and you have an inkling of the immensity of Turner’s stake in the bison business.
The five entities interested in the Yellowstone bison have a variety of reasons underlying their interest. From ABC News:
Details of the proposals are:
–The Fort Peck Indian Reservation’s Assiniboine and Sioux tribes: After receiving several dozen bison from the quarantine program in 2012, the tribes are seeking more animals to augment an existing herd on their northeast Montana reservation. They would be used for cultural and conservation purposes.
–Utah Division of Wildlife Resources: The agency has requested 30 bison to increase genetic diversity and augment two existing herds of the animals that are managed by the state in the Henry Mountains and Book Cliffs.
–Wildlife Conservation Society: The New York-based conservation group requested 30 bison for zoos in the Bronx, Queens and Ohio. The animals would be used to establish nucleus herds to promote future conservation.
–Cherokee Nation: The American Indian tribe requested 35 bison to establish a herd on tribal lands in northeast Oklahoma. Its proposal said the animals would be used for education, economic development and to preserve the animal’s genetics.
–American Prairie Reserve: The private group is seeking an undetermined number of bison to integrate with its existing herd of about 450 bison on land in north-central Montana. The animals would be classified as livestock and grazed on private, state and federal land.
As of yet, there is no deadline for the proposal. However, according to Aasheim, the state of Montana has stipulated the bison must be moved off the ranch by November.