The bison—a resilient and iconic species roaming our Northern Great Plains—now serves as the national mammal of the United States. In a show of bipartisan support, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Bison Legacy Act on April 26, celebrating a species once on the brink of extinction.
One hundred and thirty-six wild Yellowstone bison—free of cattle genes—reclaimed their historic home in the Northern Great Plains when released into the Fort Peck Indian Reservation’s cultural buffalo reserve.
Despite roaming vast distances in the Northern Great Plains, bison do not move south as the weather grows cold and inhospitable, though they may move to lower elevations where snow is not so deep. Temperatures plummet well below zero, bitter winds whip across the landscape, and bison still remain.
Since 2000, WWF has worked in this part of the country to conserve and restore the Northern Great Plains' natural heritage and native wildlife. So which animals call this beautiful region home, and why do they matter?
WWF is successfully maneuvering some of the roughest of landscapes and most complex of cultures, making significant gains toward buffalo conservation in the Northern Great Plains. Working among a culture thick with pride, history and sacrifice, WWF has found its role guiding this dream of bison restoration into reality.
A prescribed burn is part of WWF’s long-term approach to maintaining healthy habitats and human communities in the Northern Great Plains region, supporting native species expansion and reducing encroachment by invasive species.
Now available for free in the iTunes App Store, ‘WWF Together’ is a unique interactive experience that brings you closer to the stories of elephants, whales, rhinos and other fascinating species. Discover the animal’s lives and the work of WWF in a way you’ve never seen before. Try out “tiger vision,” stay as still as the polar bear during a hunt, and chop the panda’s bamboo.
The communities and wildlife of the Northern Great Plains have not suffered the fate of the Dust Bowl on the Southern Plains. But threats loom—runaway oil and gas development, a changing climate, and agriculture policies that incentivize conversion of grasslands and wetlands to crops, regardless of expectations for crop success.
In March 2012, 71 new bison calves were released on the American Prairie Reserve (APR)—a WWF partner in the Northern Montana Prairie. The young calves are descendents of the last bison that called this area home more than 100 years ago.