The National Park Service and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service completed a transfer of Yellowstone bison to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Poplar, MT During the week of January 10.
With 112 bison being transferred, this was the single largest transfer to date under the park’s Bison Conservation Transfer Program.
The transfer was a large family group of seven males, 53 females, and 52 calves. All completed phases I and II of the brucellosis quarantine protocol and will finish phase III at Fort Peck.
APHIS developed the quarantine protocols in October 2003 and validated them during 2005-2010. Quarantine has three phases:
- Phase I - Managers capture bison in or near the park during winter. Bison considered suitable for quarantine based on initial negative tests for brucellosis are isolated in double-fenced quarantine pastures and tested every 30-45 days until all bison test negative for two consecutive testing periods.
- Phase II - Bison in these individual test groups undergo brucellosis testing by age and sex requirements described in the 2003 Brucellosis Eradication: Uniform Methods and Rules (APHIS 91–45–013) and are certified as brucellosis-free.
- Phase III - Managers can transfer bison to other fenced pastures. In the new location, brucellosis tests are conducted at six and 12 months to provide additional assurance. Managers keep these bison separate from other animals at least until the six-month test is completed. Thereafter, managers can release these bison on public or tribal lands for conservation and cultural purposes.
A total of 294 bison have been transferred from Yellowstone to the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes at Fort Peck since 2019. About 170 of those bison have then been further distributed to 23 Tribes across 12 states in partnership with the Intertribal Buffalo Council.
Yellowstone National Park partnered recently with Yellowstone Forever [yellowstone.org] and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition [greateryellowstone.org] to more than double the capacity of the facility within the park. The park and APHIS intend to enter 250 new animals into the program this winter.
“We greatly appreciate the tremendous number of partners who have come together to make the Bison Conservation Transfer Program a success,” said Superintendent Cam Sholly. “It is important we continue to look for opportunities to build on the success of this program in order to move larger numbers of disease-free bison to Tribes across the country, while also achieving our future goal of eliminating shipments to slaughter."