- Date: October 11, 2019
- Author: Alison Henry
Once numbering in the tens of millions, bison populations dwindled to only 512 plains bison by 1877 as westward expansion pressed on. Fortunately, forward-thinking conservationists managed to protect those remaining animals and bring them back up to the 21,000 we see roaming today.
In 2014, WWF supported a land swap in Badlands National Park that removed a parcel of private land inside the park’s boundaries that blocked expansion of the area in which bison could roam. Later, we provided comments supporting the park’s environmental assessment that proposed creating a larger space for them. And now that vision of native bison flourishing in a larger wild home has come to fruition
Along with WWF, the National Park Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy—supported by Badlands Natural History Association and the Badlands National Park Conservancy—helped make this happen.
WWF is now working to establish five bison herds of at least 1,000 individuals each in the Northern Great Plains to increase the genetic health of this species. It is our hope that, in time, these herds will produce bison that can be shared with tribal communities and national parks in the years to come, helping our national mammal return to its home in the grasslands.