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Workshop to focus on restoring bison to Northern Plains

From Wildlife Management Institute

-- A workshop "Bringing Bison Back: Americaís Last Big Game Challenge," is scheduled at the 77th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference in Atlanta March 12.

It will examine the political, cultural and ecological steps necessary for bison to be restored, managed and valued as a wildlife resource on northeastern Montanaís Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, and other multi-jurisdictional landscapes.

The Great Plains of Montana once sustained bison herds that numbered in the millions, but the bison population was decimated by market hunting and habitat loss during the latter half of the 19th century. Through historic conservation efforts - led primarily by sportsmen clubs and conservationists, including William Hornaday, Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell - many of the game species suffering from overexploitation recovered to a sustainable degree were and been restored to native habitat. The American bison, however, was not one of those species.

Federal lands in and around CMR contain some of the most unique and valuable native habitat in the state, and present one of the most compelling landscapes for bison restoration in the United States.

The CMR area, which includes the Missouri River and the Missouri River Breaks, supports native, short-grass habitat for a variety of prairie wildlife species, including pronghorn antelope, elk, deer, sage grouse, swift fox and bighorn sheep.

The workshop, sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation, will feature a panel discussion addressing the challenges, cooperative opportunities and solutions for wild bison conservation.

For more information, contact workshop organizers Tom France at france@nwf.org or Kit Fischer at fischerk@nwf.org.

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