February/March News: Guided Trips and a Good News Bison Story

February/March 2012

A Message from the President

Sean Gerrity, APR President

This March, we celebrate the homecoming of 71 bison from Canada’s Elk Island National Park. At the March 8th bison release, I had the honor of meeting Marcia Pablo and her grandchildren, who are the seventh generation from turn-of-the-century bison conservationist Michel Pablo. Their presence vividly illustrates the Native American tradition of considering the impact of major decisions on the next seven generations, a concept demonstrated in the work of pioneering conservationists like Pablo whose work directly contributed to this month’s bison release. Your gifts to American Prairie Reserve are helping carry this legacy forward by assembling habitat not only for bison, but many other prairie species. Thank you for being a part of this historic effort.

Your Donations at Work: March 8th Bison Release

Historic Photo Provided by the Pablo Family

American Prairie Reserve staff, National Council members and partners joined journalists and tribal guests on the Reserve March 8th to watch as the corral gates were opened and 71 new bison calves took their first steps into the APR herd. The new calves, imported from Canada’s Elk Island National Park, are descendants of Montana’s Pablo-Allard herd, which was sold to the Canadian government at the turn of the 20th century. Now, exactly 100 years after their ancestors were loaded onto rail cars bound for Alberta, we celebrate the historic homecoming of these bison to their native habitat.

A Special Presentation from the Pablo Family... »

Blanket Presentation, Photo by Dennis Lingohr

Several speakers highlighted the importance of the homecoming, including National Council member George Horse Capture, Jr., who spoke about the role of the plains bison in Native American cultures. Special guest Marcia Pablo, accompanied by her grandchildren, gave a presentation on the history of the Pablo-Allard herd and presented APR President Sean Gerrity with a beautiful Pendleton blanket from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in honor of APR’s dedication to bison conservation. The Pablos then opened the gates, releasing the new bison into the herd. Your contributions to APR have helped make this historic homecoming a reality. Please join us in welcoming our new calves home.

Sights to See: Historic Zortman

Nestled in the scenic Little Rockies, the historic gold mining town of Zortman was established in 1890 and named for prospector Oliver “Pete” Zortman. By the late 19th century, more than 2,000 miners were active in the area and the town’s colorful history has included not only rugged prospectors in search of fortune, but also loggers, ranchers and outlaws.

What's Zortman like today? »
Today, Zortman offers visitors a glimpse into the region’s historic past, with rustic miners’ cabins, a jail and a small white church. Roads and trails lead into the adjacent Little Rockies, where unusual mountains rise up out of the prairie, offering 360 degree views of the surrounding grasslands. BLM campgrounds can be found near Zortman and the nearby town of Landusky, and Buckhorn Cabins and Country Store provides a charming place to stay in town or purchase supplies.

Outfitters Offer Guided Tours of the Reserve

Photo by Dave Shumway

This year, American Prairie Reserve is offering several outfitted trips and volunteer opportunities as new ways to explore the Reserve. In June, bird expert Peg Abbott will guide two outings on the Reserve. June 3-10, visitors can join Peg for a Naturalist Journeys tour of the Reserve and surrounding areas focused on birds and wildflowers. A second trip, hosted by World Wildlife Fund, will be offered June 16-24, led by Peg and WWF field staff. Rounding out our offerings, Yellowstone Safari Company, known for outfitted trips to Yellowstone and other sought-after destinations, will host a safari on the Reserve Sept. 24-28 that will combine regional history, wildlife and outdoor activities. Read more about trip itineraries here.

High school students will again have the opportunity to go “on assignment” with National Geographic Student Expeditions this July to study photography and conservation. The program, which is being offered again in response to positive feedback from last year’s trip, will take students to both Yellowstone and the Reserve, where they will discover what it takes to conserve a landscape as vast as American Prairie Reserve.

Families interested in getting involved with the project are encouraged to join our APR River Float & Family Work Safari July 19-24. Participants will enjoy a float trip down the Missouri River and field days on the Reserve working alongside APR staff to improve wildlife habitat. A Fall Work Safari will be held Oct. 4-8, taking volunteers onto the Reserve to view the annual elk rut and work on volunteer projects like fence removal and habitat restoration. Space is limited; if you are interested in participating in a trip or would like to learn more, please contact us at mail@americanprairie.org or (406) 922-0793.

Wildlife Species: Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl, Photo by Dennis Lingohr

With its distinctive white feathers and dark brown spotting, the snowy owl is well suited to the winter landscape. Young snowy owls often show heavy dark stripes, which recede as the owl matures.

What's that sound? »
Virtually silent throughout most of the year, male snowy owls will issue a mating call during breeding season and owls of both genders will sometimes utter a guttural attack cry when threatened. Unlike most owls, which are nocturnal hunters, the snowy owl is diurnal, meaning that it is active both day and night. Parents can be extremely territorial and have been known to defend their nests against a variety of intruders, including predators as large as wolves.

What We’re Reading Now: A Buffalo in the House

In this entertaining read, R. D. Rosen tells the compelling story of the relationship that grows between a couple and their adopted baby bison and offers insights into the history of bison conservation in the American West.

Read the review by APR's Meg Nicolo »
The story centers on sculptor Veryl Goodnight and her husband Roger Brooks, who adopt a bison calf to use as the subject of a sculpture and raise it at their home in Santa Fe. Veryl is a descendant of Charles Goodnight, a Texas cattleman who, like Michel Pablo and Charles Allard, worked to preserve a small herd of bison in the early 20th century. Rosen deftly weaves humorous anecdotes and heartwarming accounts with historical facts, making this an accessible read for anyone interested in learning more about bison conservation in the United States. – Guest Review by Meg Nicolo, APR Events & Visitation Manager

View all of our Recommended Reads

Prairie Legacy Society: What will your legacy be?

Prairie Legacy Society members help ensure that the wildlife reserve we’re building today will be cared for long into the future by including American Prairie Reserve in their estate plans. You can make a significant impact for future generations who will enjoy the prairie landscape and wildlife without affecting your current lifestyle by making APR a beneficiary of your estate. To learn more, call 406-922-0793 or email giftplanning@americanprairie.org.

By The Numbers: The Story of the Pablo-Allard Herd

1884   Michel Pablo and Charles Allard purchase first 13 bison.
1907   Pablo-Allard herd purchased by the Canadian government.
1913   Elk Island National Park founded.
2010   First bison descended from the Pablo-Allard herd returned to APR.
2012   71 new calves from Elk Island released into the APR herd.

First bison out of the gates at the 2012 bison homecoming event. Photo by Dennis Lingohr.


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