People gather to see bison released from a cattle carrier into a 1,000-acre fenced field on Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana Thursday.
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FORT BELKNAP, Mont. — Bison once helped sustain Native Americans on the plains of Montana. Now, Indians on the Fort Belknap Reservation say it’s time they returned the favor.
The Great Falls Tribune reported that 34 genetically pure bison from Yellowstone National Park were released on the reservation Thursday.
The relocations are part of an attempt to establish new bison herds while curbing the periodic slaughter of the animals when they leave Yellowstone.
Mark Azure, head of the tribe’s bison program, says bison helped their ancestors survive and it feels good to be able to help the bison.
Some ranchers challenged the move, fearing the bison could spread disease and compete with cattle for grazing. The bison that were released Thursday tested negative for brucellosis and are being kept in a 1,000-acre pasture with an 8-foot fence.