Theodore Roosevelt National Park thins bison herdPeriodically for decades, Theodore Roosevelt National Park has been culling its bison herd and plans to remove about 225 in the park’s North Unit on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Periodically for decades, Theodore Roosevelt National Park has been culling its bison herd and plans to remove about 225 in the park’s North Unit on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Using a helicopter to round up the bison, the animals will be corralled in the park’s North Unit Handling Facility, for eventual transport to the Blackfeet Nation of Montana and the Spirit Lake Tribe of North Dakota.
“They’ll bring semi-trucks and they’ll be loaded up live and then sent to those tribes,” said Park Superintendent Valerie Naylor.
Due to safety reasons, the process is closed to the public.
The North Unit’s present bison population is about 325. The park plans to reduce that to slightly more than 100 male and female of various ages, Naylor said.
“We remove bison based on their age, sex category so we keep a nice compliment up there,” Naylor said. “They will double their numbers every three years or so, so the heard will grow right back.”
Naylor said present park bison populations are very healthy.
“We have to round up the bison periodically because the bison don’t have any natural predators in the park and so they’re numbers continue to grow unless we take action,” Naylor said.
The last bison roundup was 2008 in the park’s South Unit.
Naylor said the park works in conjunction with the Inter Tribal Bison Cooperative, who then decides which tribes receive the bison.
“If it wasn’t for the Park Service there are a lot of tribes that wouldn’t have buffalo,” said Raymond Jetty of North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Tribe, according to a previous Press article.
Jetty said the bison are harvested as needed for various ceremonies held on the reservation, according to a previous Press article.
“Bison are real important because of our spiritual and cultural, you know, we were born of the bison,” Jetty said, according to a previous Press article. “Our bison, we use them for spiritual and cultural things for our people on the reservation.”