WWF Response: US Department of the Interior Order to Benefit Bison, Native Nations, and Grasslands

The US Department of the Interior (DOI) today issued a secretarial order to help more Native nations establish bison herds, along with $25 million in federal spending for such efforts drawn from the Inflation Reduction Act. The order puts Native nation interests at the center of the Interior Department's bison program and also prioritizes co-stewardship of federal lands between federal bureaus and Native nations toward the shared goal of bison restoration.

In addition, this action will expand quarantine of Yellowstone bison for redistribution to Native nations and support actions including Native nation herd development grants, and an apprenticeship program that will provide training to support Native nation bison management.

Over the past five years, WWF has brought more than $3 million to support and enhance Native nation bison restoration efforts. Based on the vision and priorities of each Native nation, these wide-ranging projects have resulted in the creation and expansion of bison herds, employment and training, increased access to healthy foods, and opportunities for community reconnection with bison.

In response, WWF issued the following statement from Dennis Jorgensen, Bison Program Manager:

“Native nations have shown remarkable leadership in making way for the return of bison to Tribal lands in the United States. This outstanding commitment by the Department of Interior demonstrates unprecedented support and will certainly help further these efforts.

“WWF will continue to partner with Native nations on their work to return bison to their lands, given the healing that these efforts are so clearly bringing to their communities and to the nature that they have always relied upon.”