Yellowstone Surplus Buffalo Application/RFP

Application for Surplus Yellowstone Buffalo

Due June 12, 2020

After nearly 30 years of working to protect Yellowstone buffalo and work towards their transfer to Tribal lands, ITBC is pleased to announce that the first cohort of brucellosis-free, healthy buffalo is available as part of ITBC’s Surplus Buffalo Program.

Yellowstone buffalo, considered the last pure buffalo herd in the United States, were exposed to brucellosis by domestic cattle many years ago. Based on the brucellosis exposure, the State of Montana considered the herd a threat to Montana’s cattle industry and adopted legislation that allowed slaughter of buffalo that exited Yellowstone National Park into Montana. In 1997, after Montana slaughtered over 1000 Yellowstone buffalo, ITBC filed a lawsuit, along with other bison preservation groups, against the federal government, to stop the needless killing of the Yellowstone buffalo. ITBC’s objective was to preserve the genetic heritage of the Yellowstone buffalo and seek translocation of the animals to Tribal lands. Following commencement of the litigation, the Court ordered that all parties negotiate a plan to address bison management that would balance the interests of affected parties and agencies. ITBC, as a litigating party, has been a strong advocate for the preservation of the Yellowstone buffalo and has maintained its position that live Yellowstone buffalo must be translocated to Tribal lands for meaningful preservation.

ITBC, consistent with its objective to preserve Yellowstone buffalo, first proposed a buffalo quarantine program in 1994 that would preserve those buffalo that did not develop brucellosis and translocate them to Tribes. Public support for the quarantine and relocation of buffalo to Tribes has been overwhelming from the outset. However, ITBC faced many challenges and obstacles including federal and state agency opposition and Congressional delays to approve use of quarantine that slowed progress. Despite the obstacles, ITBC has been actively involved over the last 10 years in two different quarantine programs, committing significant effort and funding to ensure that the quarantine programs continue and that ITBC and Tribes have a role in the process and outcome. ITBC has worked tirelessly to ensure that the Yellowstone buffalo, as the last pure buffalo herd, are preserved and that disease-free buffalo are translocated to Tribes to start new herds or augment existing ones.

ITBC is now most honored to make the first cohort of these Yellowstone buffalo, certified disease-free by APHIS and the state of Montana, available to Tribes. Reaching this milestone is a significant accomplishment for ITBC and its membership Tribes in the challenge to restore buffalo to our people. The ITBC Board hopes that all applicants will understand and acknowledge the significance of these buffalo and commit to utilizing them in a manner that will continue preservation of the Yellowstone herd genetics. Based on our concern for preservation, we will be requesting that tribes will commit to non-harvest or sale of these animals.

This memo serves as official notice that any Membership Tribes interested in receiving Yellowstone bull buffalo via the surplus buffalo program please submit your request to our office.

A total of forty bull buffalo (3-4 years old) will be available for distribution to ITBC Member Tribes, and will be ready for transport by August 3, 2020, from their current location at Fort Peck’s buffalo quarantine facility in Wolf Point, MT.

ITBC has an obligation to ensure that our membership Tribes that receive surplus buffalo have sufficient pasture lands and resources to maintain the buffalo they receive. In addition to the requirements of ITBC’s regular Surplus Buffalo Program, ITBC declares that Yellowstone buffalo are a special source of surplus buffalo due to their pure genetic heritage, importance to Native Americans, and the controversy of their management. For these reasons, their use to enhance genetic diversity of a Member Tribe’s buffalo herd shall be the primary consideration when applying for Yellowstone buffalo. Yellowstone buffalo shall not be distributed to Member Tribes that seek buffalo for non-cultural/spiritual hunting, consumption, or sale.

Applications for surplus Yellowstone buffalo shall be considered from Active Membership Tribes who have submitted the following information to the ITBC office by Friday, June 12, 2020. Applications may be submitted by email to admin@itbcbuffalonation.org; or at the online form below:



Tribal Council Resolution (required)

Required: A Tribal Council Resolution and/or other document with the same legal effect as determined by your Tribe’s governing documents, signed by an appropriate Tribal Official requesting a specific number of buffalo. If a Tribe is unable to secure a Tribal Council Resolution by the set deadline (June 12, 2020), the Tribe may submit a letter explaining why a Tribal Council Resolution is unobtainable by the deadline and that by the date of distribution (Aug 3, 2020), a Resolution will be submitted to the ITBC office;


Report on Carrying Capacity (required)


Supporting Documents (optional)

If necessary, please provide copies of agreements entered into with states, local governments, or private parties, or descriptions of such agreements, necessary to receive surplus buffalo from ITBC. (submit only if necessary)


Intended Purpose for Buffalo (required)


Statement To Abide By ITBC Surplus Policy (required)

Please submit a statement signed by a Tribal government official affirming the Tribe will abide by the guidelines as determined by ITBC's Surplus Buffalo Policy (required)


Five Year Buffalo Management Plan (submit if not already on file)

A current five-year management plan of the Tribe’s buffalo project for the ITBC office to retain on file. A Tribe only needs to provide a five-year management plan if the current plan has expired


Thank you for completing your application for FY2020 Surplus Yellowstone Buffalo. We will be in touch with any questions!