WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Wildlife Federation applauds the introduction of the bipartisan Indian Buffalo Management Act by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.). The bill will establish a permanent program within the Department of the Interior to develop and promote Tribal ownership and management of buffalo and their habitat on Tribal lands.
“For Indigenous peoples, the restoration of buffalo is as much about healing our people and reviving our culture as it is about healing the land,” said Jason Baldes, board member of the InterTribal Buffalo Council and Tribal buffalo program manager for the National Wildlife Federation. “The Indian Buffalo Management Act not only expands capacity and reaffirms Tribal sovereignty but ensures we can continue working with Tribal, federal and conservation partners to establish prolific populations of buffalo across the country.”
Cosponsors of the bill include Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.). The Senate bill and its House companion cosponsored by 13 representatives 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.
The 13 House cosponsors include:
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