The Concept

Bison One Million is an ambitious commitment to build the North American bison population to one million animals. Accomplishing the goal will require a collaborative commitment among private ranchers, public herd managers, tribal leaders, First Nations communities, conservationists, government agencies and other stakeholders in the United States and Canada.


The North American bison population has steadily recovered since an estimated 700 animals balanced on the verge of extinction in the mid 1880’s. Today, there are an estimated 385,000 bison in North American private, public and tribal herds, according to information compiled by the National Bison Association (See charts at right).

Calculations by some private herd managers estimate that the bison herds are capable of expanding at a rate of 20% per year under optimal conditions. That growth does not factor in droughts, herd health challenges or other limiting factors.

If, however, the herds could expand at a rate of little over 10% per year, over the next eight years, the overall North American herd would surpass one million animals by 2025.

What It Will Require

Bison One Million is the most ambitious goal in bison restoration since Dr. William Hornaday and Theodore Roosevelt sparked the American Bison Society in 1905. Achieving this goal will require a coordinated effort among all stakeholders.

Ranchers, public herd managers must all develop a game plan for their individual roles. Just as important, federal, state, and provincial agencies must play a role through new policies, including:

  • Additional incentives for young and beginning bison ranchers;
  • Expanded access to federal grazing lands for bison production and ecosystem restoration;
  • Incentives for expansion of tribal/First Nation community herds for tribal and commercial markets;
  • Restoration of bison in federal and state parks that were part of the historic bison habitat.
  • Expanded live bison transfers from public parks to tribal groups and ranchers; and
  • Expanded learning opportunities for sustainable bison production and stewardship.

What are the Next Steps

Please contact the National Bison Association in the United States Ph 1-303-292-2833 or email: and in Canada contact the Canadian Bison Association at 1-306-522-4766 or email: to discuss how you can participate.