To learn more about the National Wildlife Federation and their current conservation efforts,
The American bison once roamed North America in vast herds—some estimates put the population at some 60,000,000 animals—before succumbing to overhunting and the ravages of American westward expansion during the 19th century. By the mid-1880s, these majestic animals were approaching extinction.
Fortunately, conservation efforts were underway by 1900, beginning the buffalo’s long march back from the brink. Although most American bison are raised in captivity today, there is still one large, continually wild herd in America: the bison of Yellowstone National Park. This group of more than 3,000 animals roams freely, spending summers in the green upper elevations, and, when winter arrives, moving downslope to find available grazing land. This often results in encroachment on land that has been leased by cattle ranchers, who seek to eliminate contact between their cattle and the wild bison herd because it is thought by some that bison can transmit brucellosis—a disease that can cause stillbirth—to cattle.
Since 2002, through an innovative Wildlife Conflict Resolution program, the National Wildlife Federation has helped minimize these conflicts adjacent to Yellowstone by compensating ranchers to retire their livestock grazing privileges in areas crucial to wintering bison. These retirements have also proven important for elk, mule deer, grizzly bears and wolves. To date, over 612,000 acres have been retired from grazing in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.
Currently, NWF has expanded its focus to restoring bison to the 1.1 million-acre Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (CMR) in northeastern Montana. Because livestock grazing is permissible on national wildlife refuges, two years ago NWF began negotiating agreements with livestock permittees to relinquish CMR grazing privileges as NWF looks to fully integrate bison into this remarkable grassland ecosystem. We have already retired 65,000 acres and are well on our way to creating an area large enough to support a free-ranging bison population.
As part of our global commitment to protect nature, The Orvis Company has partnered with NWF and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition in a matching funds grant with a total goal of $60,000 toward the cost of grazing agreements on the CMR and adjacent to Yellowstone Park. Your contribution will be matched by Orvis—dollar for dollar, up to $30,000—doubling your donation to help the Yellowstone bison find safe winter forage. Your $100 contribution becomes $200!