Bison Once Again Roaming the Badlands—Return of Tatanka | Black Hills Travel Blog

Bison Once Again Roaming the Badlands—Return of Tatanka

  • Bison Once Again Roaming the Badlands—Return of Tatanka
Updated: 
Sunday, October 13, 2019
By : 
Greg

Friday, October 11, 2019 marked the return of the bison to an expanded range of over 22,000 acres in the North Unit of Badlands National Park. Approximately 50 people braved the chilling prairie winds with a fresh blanket of snow to watch four 2,000 pound bison bulls step out onto the vast moonscape of the Badlands.

The ceremony was held at the Pinnacles Overlook south of Wall, South Dakota to release them back to their ancestorial grounds for the first time since 1877. Beautiful words were said by both Badlands National Park Superintendent Mike Pflaum and a representative from the Lakota people. I was completely drawn in by the significance it holds to the Lakota and their connection to the land and the bison; a symbiotic relationship that can be traced back generations.

Standing in the Badlands with the wind and snow muting every sound and the wide-open expanse of the land leaving us isolated and vulnerable, it was easy to lose ourselves in the silence of the prairie. The grasslands howled and the bison rattled the walls of their trailer in careful anticipation. We all waited on bated breath for their release—this was something greater than all of us.

As the bison left the trailer, you could feel the rebirth and the significance this connection and moment held. The last time the animal had walked this land, it was nearly extinct.

The bison began to roam the unfamiliar range, but they took to the land almost as though they were at home.



The current herd is around 1,200 head, but very few visitors get the chance to see them in this unique setting. Badlands National Park has had bison within the park as a whole since 1963, but their range has been limited and remote to many visitors.

Moving them to this new area, visitors will be provided more opportunities for viewing, photographing and learning about the bison in their native habitat.

All of this was made possible by cooperation between The National Park Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, Defenders of Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, supported by Badlands Natural History Association and the Badlands National Park Conservancy.

To relive the release, please visit Badlands National Park Facebook or the video here.