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February 15, 2024

The envisioned Shared Stewardship Strategy seeks to establish a comprehensive framework for American bison restoration, including strengthening long-term bison conservation partnerships. Multiple Tribal Nations will also be participating in these in-person discussions. The meeting will take place in Missoula, Montana from February 13–15, 2024.

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Learn more about the Bison Conservation Initiative. 


Until the 1800s, American bison numbered in the tens of millions functioning as a keystone species of grassland ecosystems in the West, and a critical resource and cultural touchstone for many Native American Tribes. Today, there are a little over 350,000 bison living in the United States, most of which are managed by commercial enterprises. Of that population, only 15,000 bison are considered wild and free-roaming, 11,000 of which are managed by the Department of the Interior (DOI). 


The Bison Working Group (BWG) is an interagency collaboration between bison managers and researchers at five federal DOI agencies — the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Geological Survey — with five main focal areas (see right): wild, healthy bison herds; genetic conservation; shared stewardship; ecological restoration; and cultural restoration.  


In Secretary's Order 3410 "Restoration of American Bison and the Prairie Grasslands", DOI leadership created a framework for a Shared Stewardship Plan, in which the BWG collaborates with or supports Tribes, states, landowners, and non-governmental organizations to improve bison herd health and populations on federal and tribal lands. This Shared Stewardship Plan, also informed by Action 2 in the "DOI Bison Conservation Initiative 2020", emphasizes the importance of partnerships in effective bison conservation and population restoration.


Kate Schoenecker is a Research Wildlife Biologist and leader of the Ungulate Ecology Research Group at the USGS Fort Collins Science Center, as well as a member of the BWG. She is an expert in ungulate ecology and population monitoring, including over a decade of research on bison grazing behavior and conservation. For more information, please contact Kate at 



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