WASHINGTON, D.C. — The bipartisan Indian Buffalo Management Act, introduced by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), commits to creating a permanent program within the Department of Interior that promotes Tribal ownership and management of buffalo and their habitat on Tribal lands.
“Buffalo are as ubiquitous to the land as the Indigenous peoples that have resided here for thousands of years. The species is necessary to not only heal the land but to revive and protect our culture and maintain connection to our ancestral heritage,” said Jason Baldes, board member of the InterTribal Buffalo Council and senior Tribal buffalo program manager for the National Wildlife Federation. “The Indian Buffalo Management Act not only acknowledges, but celebrates the intergenerational knowledge we hold in caring for this species and provides resources to ensure we can continue working with Tribal, federal and conservation partners to establish prolific populations of buffalo across the country. We’re grateful for Senator Heinrich and Senator Mullin’s leadership on this important initiative.”
The Senate bill requires the Interior Department to enter into contracts, award grants and provide technical assistance to Tribes and Tribal organizations for activities related to buffalo restoration or management. It also requires consultation with Tribal representatives on initiatives that affect buffalo or buffalo habitat, including efforts to contain or eradicate diseased buffalo and develop a policy relating to buffalo habitat management activities on Tribal land. Additionally, it allows the Interior Department to enter into agreements with Tribes or Tribal organizations to transport surplus buffalo from federal land onto Tribal land.
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