To honor our incredible wildlife, Defenders has declared 2019 the Year of Coexistence. Over the course of the year, we'll highlight innovative ways people are sharing the landscape with wildlife.
Millions of bison roamed the Great Plains until a mass slaughter began in the early 1800s and by the late 1880s, fewer than 1,000 bison remained. Thanks to the work of Native American tribes, government agencies, and conservation groups such as Defenders of Wildlife, bison have been making a comeback across the West. Currently, Yellowstone National Park is home to the largest and most genetically pure herd of wild bison in the country.
Not surprisingly, wildlife don’t recognize boundaries we humans designate on maps. As a migratory species, these Yellowstone bison often cross Park boundaries in search of grass. That is why Defenders continues to fight for common-sense bison management and the expansion of year-round habitat in Montana for wild bison that roam outside of the Park boundaries. That is also why we work tirelessly with our tribal partners to establish new wild bison populations elsewhere across the West. Progress has been slow but steady; Montana’s current and former governors have expanded areas outside the Park where bison are now allowed to roam as wildlife, and several tribes are now establishing bison herds on their lands.
As we work to secure additional habitat and places for bison, Defenders and our conservation partners are also working to promote social acceptance for bison on the landscape and to help individuals, landowners, and communities coexist with wildlife.