On Wednesday May 3, the first bison calf was born on the Wind River Reservation in well over 130 years. This momentous occasion follows the return of bison, traditionally called buffalo by Native American tribes, when 10 animals were released last November by the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and the National Wildlife Federation. The bison calf represents the culmination of years of work to bring this iconic species back as well as the rebirth of the Eastern Shoshone’s cultural and ecological connections to buffalo.
The Nov. 3, 2016, release of bison on the Wind River Reservation marked a major milestone in restoring a critical species to the landscape and restoring a people’s culture and heritage. It was the first time since 1885 that wild bison rumbled across these tribal lands.
Jason Baldes, Bison Representative for the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, noted, “Today, Boy-Zhan Bi-Den – Buffalo Return in the Shoshone language – has been blessed with the birth of its first buffalo calf. The birth of the calf is an honor bestowed upon us by the Creator, an homage to what we are doing to bring buffalo back to our lands and culture.”
The circle was completed with the return of bison in November. With the birth of this bison calf, we recognize that the return wasn’t a finale, but the beginning of a new chapter in bison conservation for the tribes. The bison’s return means all the major ungulate species that roamed these tribal lands before Lewis and Clark arrived are now living on the reservation.
The Wind River Reservation has a long history of conservation successes. The tribes designated the nation’s first wilderness area in 1938, more than two decades before the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act. In the early 1980s, they enacted hunting regulations to conserve wildlife. They have also developed plans to manage grizzlies and wolves. The return of bison to the reservation is part of a larger quest to restore the species, once essential to the Plains Indians’ existence, across tribal lands.
It’s a great day for bison, the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, and our mission to restore and protect America’s wildlife!
NWF’s Tribal Program partners with tribes to bolster collaboration with sovereign tribal nations that solve today’s conservation challenges for future generations. You can learn more about our partnerships with tribes to restore buffalo on our tribal bison page.