Press Release Mar 6, 2023

Interior Department Announces Historic Bison Restoration Efforts Through New Secretarial Order and Funding

“Restoring the American bison to federal and Tribal lands can serve as a crucial tool to protect and preserve national park landscapes for future generations.” – Bart Melton, NPCA’s Wildlife Program Senior Director

Washington, DC – The Department of the Interior (DOI) recently announced plans for restoring American bison populations and habitat, including a new Secretarial Order that promotes bison conservation nationally. The order, signed by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, commits staff and $25 million in Inflation Reduction Act funding to support the restoration and conservation of American bison on federal lands, as well as elevates and supports Tribal-led bison restoration efforts and commits to collaboration amongst federal agencies, Tribes, states and landowners.

NPCA has long supported bison conservation efforts at Yellowstone and other units of the National Park System. At Yellowstone in recent years, we have advocated for an end to the controversial ship-to-slaughter program, supported expansion of the transfer of disease-free bison to tribal herds and supported appropriate beyond boundary management of the species.

Additional provisions included in the Secretarial Order:

  • Directs the National Park Service to initiate discussions with Tribes to increase the transfer of disease-free Yellowstone bison to Tribal lands.
  • Establishes a Tribal Bison Management Apprenticeship program, which will include opportunities for Tribal youth to work at national parks and learn bison management practices.
  • Provides a formal charter for the Interior Bison Working Group including Tribal representation. The Working Group will coordinate bison management and research within DOI and facilitate partnerships with states, tribes and landowners.
  • Directs the Bison Working Group to develop a Bison Shared Stewardship Plan by the end of 2023. This plan will detail Interior’s engagement with states, Tribes, and landowners and opportunities to lead or support the establishment of disease-free, bison herds on federal and Tribal lands.

Below is a statement from Bart Melton, Wildlife Program Senior Director for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA):

“Restoring the American bison to federal and Tribal lands can serve as a crucial tool to protect and preserve national park landscapes for future generations. Secretary Haaland’s order is a monumental step for bison conservation on a national scale, providing dedicated investment and, for the first time, requiring collaboration between the Interior Department and key stakeholders.

“NPCA has long supported conservation opportunities for bison, and the new Secretarial Order will build on the collaborative successes that have been achieved in and around Yellowstone and on other federal and Tribal lands in recent years. We commend Secretary Haaland for her leadership to advance bison restoration and doing so in ways that support Tribes, national parks and communities.”

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About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.

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