Donated bison will help to enhance conservation herds on tribal lands. 

By unanimous approval by the Denver City Council on April 12, Denver Parks and Recreation will begin donating bison from its herds to tribal nations and tribal nonprofit organizations. 

This first-of-its-kind gift provides 13 American bison to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, located in Oklahoma, and one bison to the Tall Bull Memorial Council in Colorado. 

“This donation is the result and culmination of a very long, storied history and relationship with the State of Colorado,” said Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Governor Reggie Wassana. “The Tribes plan to use the donated bison as a cultural, conservation and educational resource, with the goal of locating the bison on our own tribal natural plains habitat.” 

This marks a change from the traditional surplus auction Denver held to keep its Genessee Park and Daniels Park bison herds at a healthy population and promote genetic diversity in managed herds across the nation. Now, instead of an auction, surplus animals will be donated to enhance the conservation of bison herds on tribal lands. According to a statement, the donation of bison will continue through the year 2030, in consultation with DPR’s tribal partners, the Denver American Indian Commission, the Tall Bull Memorial Council, and the InterTribal Buffalo Council.

“Denver shares a common vision with our tribal partners to return and restore wild bison back to historical habitats and ancestral lands,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock in a statement. “Bison restoration efforts teach us how to be better stewards of the land, improve prairie landscapes and ecosystems, ensure genetic diversity of the species, and ensure a legacy of cultural understanding.” 

Denver's two bison herds are descendants of the last wild bison in North America and were originally established at Denver’s City Park by the Denver Zoo and the City of Denver. The herd was moved to Genesee Park in 1914 and expanded to Daniels Park in 1938.

Seeing the bison on the way to the mountains is a sacred Colorado sighting that often gets taken for granted. Share your thoughts in the comments.