As part of a larger vision that involves returning and restoring wild bison back to their historical habitats and ancestral lands, the city of Denver recently donated 14 bison to tribal nations.

At one point in time, there were approximately 30 million bison living in the wild in North America. Sadly, a majority of the massive animals were killed off by European explorers in the 1880s, leaving only around 1,000 in existence by the early 20th century. According to Denver 7 News, the current population of free-range wild bison living in North America right now is somewhere around 31,000.

Thirteen of the donated bison were transported to Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes in Oklahoma. The last bison was gifted to the Tall Bull Memorial Council in Sedalia, Colorado. The tribes will use the animals as cultural and educational resources. In addition, the donations support conservation efforts and defend against the extinction of the species.

Denver plans on continuing these types of donations to American Indian Tribes and American Indian nonprofit organizations through 2030.

Kelsey Nistel/TSM

Prior to being gifted to tribal nations, the bison were living with herds at Genesee Park and Daniels Park. Caring for them at these locations is another way that Denver Mountain Parks helps to conserve the species. The herds living at these parks are descendants of the last wild bison herd in North America.

Colorado's Wild Big Game Populations