WICHITA MOUNTAINS, Okla. (TNN) - The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is ending it’s annual Bison Auction.
Earlier this year, the Secretary of the Interior announced the 2020 Bison Conservation Initiative, which is a commitment to the conservation and restoration of the wild American bison.
Deputy Refuge Manage Amber Zimmerman said with the refuge now backing the initiative, they will be switching up the way they manage the bison in the Refuge.
“The bison auction is being canceled this year again. With us joining the bison conservation initiative, it really changes the way we are moving forward with bison management as a whole. So we are not likely to bring the bison auction back because we will be managing them differently for genetics," Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman said they will be working on a national scale now with the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and others to keep the bison together.
“So on those surplus bison here we look at the genetics and find out where we can move them to other herds to help benefit the bison as a whole," Zimmerman said.
Over the next 10-years, plans will be put in place to save the bison population from shrinking any more than it already has.
“There used to be millions of them and then their whole population shrank. So you can imagine when the population here grew from 15. You can end up with issues with inbreeding and there were also some genetic issues with some areas that they crossbreed with livestock," Zimmerman said.
In order to restore the genetic diversity, Zimmerman said they will need to be strategic about how they move the bison around.