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Denver donates 14 American Bison to tribal nations

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Credit: City and County of Denver

DENVER — Denver Parks and Recreation (DPR) donated 13 American Bison to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma, as well as one bison to the Tall Bull Memorial Council in Colorado.

DPR said it's the first donation of its kind for the city. For nearly 40 years, DPR held an annual Bison Auction at Genesee Park in which it auctioned off bison from Genesee Park and Daniels Park. The department announced April 2 that it will no longer hold the auction, but will continue working with its “tribal partners to select tribes across the country that will accept the bison to build and enhance conservation herds on tribal lands.”

“Denver shares a common vision with our tribal partners to return and restore wild bison back to historical habitats and ancestral lands,” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “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.”

American Bison used to roam North American grasslands in massive herds, but were nearly extinct in the 19th century due to commercial hunting and diseases. By 1900, there were fewer than 1,000 bison in existence, according to DPR.

Today, there are about 31,000 free-range wild bison in North America, the department said.

“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.”

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Lt. Governor Gilbert Miles said, “We appreciate this gift and hope to grow our relationship with the great state of Colorado.”

DPR operates two bison herds in the name of conservation: one at Genesee Park and another at Daniels Park. The herd was first established at City Park by the Denver Zoo, but moved to Genesee Park in 1914 and expanded to Daniels Park in 1938.

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