National Bison Range-Montana

The National Bison Range is a National Wildlife Refuge located in western Montana established in 1908 to provide a sanctuary for the American bison and one of the oldest National Wildlife Refuges in the United States.


Woods County Enterprise
Waynoka Oklahoma Nov 24th 1905

A Bison Range Washington’ D.C. — A bill was passed by the Senate Wednesday to establish a permanent national bison range of 12,000 acres on the Flathead Indian reservation Montana the range to be inclosed and become the home of the largest herd of bison in existence.


Great Falls Tribune
Great Falls, Montana March 17, 1908
Will Have a Home in Flathead Reservation if Joe Dixon’s Bill Goes Through

Special to The Daily Tribune.
Washington, March 16. Dixon today introduced a bill setting aside 12,800 acres of land in the Flathead Indian reservation, near the confluence of the Pend D’Oreille and the Jocko rivers, for a permanent national bison range for a herd of buffalo to be presented by the American Bison Society. The bill appropriates $30,000 for payment to the Indians for the lands set aside and $10,000 for the care of the Range by the agricultural department.


The Washington Post
Washington, District of Columbia Mar 25, 1908
American Society Offers Herd if Government Will Furnish Range.

New York, Mar 24- Dr. William T. Hornaday, president of the American Bison Society, announces the completion of plans for the preservation of pureblood American bison upon a projected permanent national bison range 12,80 acres in extent, on the  Flathead Indian Reservation in Northwestern Montana

Dr. Hornaday said he had been authorized by the society to give the Federal government a herd of twenty bison which are expected to increase to 1,000 head within the lifetime of men now living.

President Roosevelt and Earl Grey honorary officers of the society each member of which will now be asked to do his best to convince Congress that range In Montana should be purchased at once.



The bill to establish the National Bison Range, Montana, introduced March 16, 1908, was incorporated in the agricultural bill, which became a law May 23, 1908.



Mr. DIXON. I am directed by the Committee on Indian Affairs, to whom was referred the bill (S. 6159) to establish a permanent national bison range, to report it with amendments, and I submit a report (No. 467) thereon.

The VICE-PRESIDENT. The bill will be placed on the Calendar. Mr. DIXON. I should like to ask that a thousand extra copies of the report be printed for the use of the Senate. With the report are certain statistics gathered by the American Bison Society, showing the present number and condition of the buffalo in different parts of the country. I have attached those statistics to the report, and, owing to the numerous demands already made for copies of the report, I ask that a thousand extra copies be printed for the use of the Senate. The statistics and information, I think, are well worthy of public preservation.

The VICE-PRESIDENT. The Senator from Montana asks unanimous consent that a thousand additional copies of the report be printed for the use of the Senate. Without objection it is so ordered. 


New York, March 30, 1908.

Dear Sir: It is no exaggeration to say that many Americans have been greatly disappointed by the sale of the Pablo herd of American bison to the Canadian government last year and its shipment out of the United States. The loss by us of the largest bison herd in the world is to be deplored; but it can be made good in a way that is yet open to us.

The American Bison Society requests your assistance in its effort to promote the founding of a great national herd of pure-blood bison on a fenced range of 20 square miles, to be located at Ravalli, Mont., on the Flathead Reservation, and be owned by the Government. The society offers a nucleus herd as a gift if the Government will provide the range and fence it.

Senator Joseph M. Dixon has now before the Senate a bill (S. 6159) designed to carry out in the most expeditious and economical manner the National Government’s share of the proposed undertaking. We earnestly hope that the bill will meet your approval and receive your support.

By this mail we send you a copy of the American Bison Society’s annual report, in which you will find a full report by an expert on the proposed bison range. The phenomenal success of the Pablo herd of bison in that identical territory, increasing in twenty years from 30 head to more than 700 solely by free grazing, removes the proposition from the domain of experiment and renders its success absolutely assured.

The Flathead Indian Reservation at Ravalli will in a few months be thrown open to settlement, and it is important that the range desired should be secured now. In view of the large sum— between $150,000 and $200,000—which the Canadian government has not hesitated to expend in the purchase of the Pablo bison herd on the Flathead Reservation, the sum called for by Senator Dixon’s bill seems small.

Hoping that this matter will receive the serious attention of the Senate of the United States, I have the honor to remain,

Very respectfully, yours, T. Hornaday,
President American Bison Society.

Hon. Moses E. Clapp,
United States Senate.


The Rock Island Argus
Rock Island, Illinois 16 Apr 1908

Bison Bill Passed by Senate

 A bill was passed by the Senate yesterday to establish a permanent national bison range of 12.800 acres on the Flathead Indian reservation in Montana, the range to be inclosed and become the home of the largest herd of bison in existence.


U.S. Now at Work.

Aroused by the loss of these buffalo, the United States has established a national bison range in the Flathead Indian reservation in Montana, comprising 12,800 acres, near the towns of Ravalli and Dixon, and it was stocked by the American Bison Society. Some animals for a nucleus may be obtained from a herd of about 80, owned by the Conrad estate near Kalispell.


United States Congress 1908

No change has been made in the appropriations for this office.

No change has been made in the amount of the appropriation for paper tests, but a minor change has been made in the language, as some plants to be tested do not require cultivation.

A provision has been inserted to enable the Secretary of Agriculture to inquire into and report upon the protection of the naval stores industry, and the sum of $10,000 is asked for the purpose.

A provision has also been inserted directing the President to reserve from the unallotted lands now embraced within the Flathead Indian Reservation, in the State of Montana, not to exceed 12,800 acres, for a permanent National Bison Range, for the herd of bison to be presented by the American Bison Society, and the sum of $30,000 is asked to pay the confederated tribes of Indians belonging on said reservation for such lands. An appropriation of $10,000 is also asked to enable the Secretary of agriculture to inclose the proposed range with a substantial fence and to erect thereon necessary buildings for the proper maintenance of said range.



60th Congress, | SENATE. j Report 1st Session. J j No. 467.

April 6, 1908.—Ordered to be printed, with map.
Mr. Dixon, from the Committee on Indian Affairs, submitted the following
[To accompany S. 6159.]

The Committee on Indian Affairs, having had under consideration the bill (S.6259) providing for the establishment of a national bison range, report the same back with the recommendation that it do pass, with amendments

For many years it has been a matter of much concern to citizens of this country that no systematic effort has been made to preserve from final extinction the last remnant of the American buffaloes. The national movement for their permanent preservation on a national buffalo range began in June, 1904. In December 1905, a meeting was held in New York City, at which was organized the American Bison Society, for the express purpose of devising ways and means for the establishment of a national bison range somewhere in the Northwest which might be set apart for the preservation, by the Government, of a herd of buffalo under the care and control of the National Government, and in this movement many distinguished and patriotic citizens have enlisted, and it is through the efforts of these gentlemen that a thorough investigation has been made of the number of buffalo {‘et remaining and some intelligent efforts put forth to find a suitable location for the permanent preservation of this historic animal. The rapid settlement of the public range lands of the Western States, which was the native habitat of the buffalo, has made it difficult to point out any specific location where sufficient land could be secured for the purpose without interfering with the settlement of the country. A year ago an agent of the American Bison Society was authorized to make a thorough investigation of all of the proposed sites where it was possible to establish a permanent range in accordance with the wishes of the society. Special attention was called to the Flathead Indian Reservation, in western Montana, on account of the fact that the great Pablo-Allard bison herd had grown up on that reservation, from 30 animals to a total of 639 head, not counting between 200 and 300 head previously sold. The history of that herd has amply demonstrated the fact that bison suitably located on the Flathead Reservation could live all the year around by grazing and without being fed on hay.

Unfortunately, the society came into existence just one year too late to prevent the sale and the removal to Canada of the Pablo-Allard herd, the Canadian government having two years ago, at an expense of about $200,000, purchased and transported the Pablo- Allard herd to northwestern Canada. The Flathead Reservation is to be opened next year under the act of Congress passed April 28, 1904, and if anything is to be done toward securing the proposed range on that reservation, which has been visited and recommended by the agents of the American Bison Society, it will have to be done at the present session of Congress, as the lands will be no longer available after they are thrown open to settlement.

The American Bison Society have agreed to purchase at their own expense sufficient buffalo as a nucleus for the proposed herd, provided the Government will secure the land and fence the same. Prof. M. J. Elrod, of the University of Montana, who was detailed to make the examination of the proposed location, has strongly recommended the site on the Flathead Reservation, as set forth in the bill. The lands therein described are a part of the old range that was formerly occupied by the Pablo-Allard herd, before its purchase by the Canadian government, and the fact that the buffalo thrived and increased on this range to such a wonderful extent leads the committee to believe that if any place is selected that these lands are especially adapted for the purpose. The bill calls for an appropriation of only $30,000 for the purchase of the land and $10,000 additional for fencing the same and the construction of sheds. The committee is of the belief that the case is an urgent one and that the amount of money called for is a mere bagatelle in comparison with the great object that can be achieved by the proposed legislation. It is estimated by competent authority that the lands in question will ultimately be able to support 1,000 head of buffalo and that owing to the climatic conditions there prevailing the animals can thrive and live through the winter off of the natural grasses that grow on these lands without the expense of feeding hay, as is the case with nearly every other buffalo range that is in private ownership.

The committee believes that no more meritorious measure has been presented during the present session of Congress and are unanimous in the recommendation that the bill pass.

On page 1 insert the word “unallotted” before the word “lands” in line 4.

On page 1, line 8, after the word ” bison,” insert the words “to be.”

On page 2, line 8, strike out the word “Agriculture” and insert the words ” the Interior.”

Attached hereto is the report from the Secretary of the Interior, certain letters from prominent people interested in the proposed legislation, and also the full and exhaustive report of the history and purposes of the American Bison Society, which gives much additional information on this most important subject.


Department of the Interior,
Washington, March 25, 1908.

Sir: I am in receipt by your reference for a report thereon of a copy of S. 6159, entitled “A bill to establish a permanent national bison ranch.”

The bill directs the President to reserve 12,800 acres of land in the Flathead Indian Reservation, Mont., near the confluence of the Pend d’Oreille and Jocko rivers, for a permanent national bison reserve for the herd presented by the American Bison Society, and appropriate $30,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, to pay the Indians of the reservation the appraised value of the land as determined under the provisions of the act of April 23, 1904 ( 33 Stat. L., 302).

I believe the purpose of the bill in providing a range where bison may roam with a degree at least of the freedom which these animals require in order to thrive is an admirable one, and that the country chosen is in every way adapted to the purpose. As the Indians will receive the same compensation for the lands appropriated for this reserve as they would were the lands disposed of to intending settlers, their interests will in no wise be prejudiced.

I would suggest, however, that the bill be amended by inserting the word “unallotted” before the word ” lands,” in line 4, page 1, as it is observed that the lands at the exact point of confluence of the Pend d’Oreille and Jocko rivers have been allotted, although there is a large area of unallotted land in that vicinity.

With this amendment I have no objection to the enactment of the bill into law.

Very respectfully,
James Rudolph Garfield,

Hon. Moses E. Clapp,
Chairman Committee on Indian Affairs, United States Senate.


New York, March 30, 1908.

Dear Sir: It is no exaggeration to say that many Americans have been greatly disappointed by the sale of the Pablo herd of American bison to the Canadian government last year and its shipment out of the United States. The loss by us of the largest bison herd in the world is to be deplored; but it can be made good in a way that is yet open to us.

The American Bison Society requests your assistance in its effort to promote the founding of a great national herd of pure-blood bison on a fenced range of 20 square miles, to be located at Ravalli, Mont., on the Flathead Reservation, and be owned by the Government. The society offers a nucleus herd as a gift if the Government will provide the range and fence it.

Senator Joseph M. Dixon has now before the Senate a bill (S. 6159) designed to carry out in the most expeditious and economical manner the National Government’s share of the proposed undertaking. We earnestly hope that the bill will meet your approval and receive your support.

By this mail we send you a copy of the American Bison Society’s annual report, in which you will find a full report by an expert on the proposed bison range. The phenomenal success of the Pablo herd of bison in that identical territory, increasing in twenty years from 30 head to more than 700 solely by free grazing, removes the proposition from the domain of experiment and renders its success absolutely assured.

The Flathead Indian Reservation at Ravalli will in a few months be thrown open to settlement, and it is important that the range desired should be secured now. In view of the large sum— between $150,000 and $200,000—which the Canadian government has not hesitated to expend in the purchase of the Pablo bison herd on the Flathead Reservation, the sum called for by Senator Dixon’s bill seems small. Hoping that this matter will receive the serious attention of the Senate of the United States, I have the honor to remain,

Very respectfully, yours, W. T. Hornaday,
President American Bison Society.

Hon. Moses E. Clapp,
United States Senate.


New York, March 23, 1908.

Dear Sir: As one of the board of managers of the American Bison Society, I wish to call your attention to a bill recently introduced by Senator Jos. N. Dixon, of Montana, providing for a national park on the Flathead Indian Reservation for the preservation of the American buffalo, the proposed herd to be donated by the American Bison Society.

In 1882 I went out to Wyoming and Montana and engaged in the cattle business for eight years and saw the last of the buffalo. On my ranch in Montana the Zoll brothers killed 3,900 head of bison in one winter for their hides and tongues, the rest of the carcass being left on the prairie to the wolves and coyotes.

This, the largest of our American game animals, furnished food, clothing, and shelter for thousands of years for the American Indian of the West. I have seen some of the last tepees made from the buffalo hides.

The animal is native to the West, and if duly protected from extinction I believe the species can be revived to become a native animal of very great value to the American people. It is accustomed to the semiarid plains and especially to the severe winters.

I know personally “Buffalo” Jones. He is successfully breeding the buffalo with native cattle and producing a robe that is very handsome and commercially extremely valuable.

The setting aside of this reservation will afford a park for all time, increasing in value to the interests of all the people as the years go by, one of the most picturesque, interesting, and characteristic of almost any location to be selected. Here could be placed the buffalo, some of the rapidly diminishing elk and deer, and finally result in a national zoological park.

The title of this tract of land offers no difficulties; no settler is ousted nor in any way wronged. The neighborhood and the State of Montana will be greatly benefited by the setting apart of this reservation, but the greatest argument of all is that in the heart of every American is the love of wild life and wild things, and the free native outdoor air, and for this reason your assistance and approval in passing this bill of Senator Dixon’s will be commended by every American.

Yours, respectfully,
Edmund Seymour.

Hon. Thob. C. Platt,
Washington, D. C.


Carnegie Institution,
Cold Spring Harbor, Long  Island, N. V., March 21, 1908.

Dear Sir: I trust you will exert every energy to secure submission to the Senate of Senate bill 6159 and to secure its passage in the Senate.

The National Government can hardly do too much to atone, although it is almost too late, for its neglect of preventing the practical extinction of the buffalo, which will be of economic importance as a cross with our domestic cattle and to render those of the great Northwest more fit to face the blizzard. Experience has shown that at times when the European domesticated cattle die by thousands in the Dakotas from the blizzards, the hybrid cattalo, like the native buffalo, are able to withstand the elements. Practically the cattalo (which is not a sterile hybrid) is worth very much more in the market, on the block, than any of our domestic races of cattle and if the last remnants of the bison can be preserved, I have little doubt that in fifty years the cattalo will be almost the exclusive animal raised for beef in the Dakotas, Idaho, and Wyoming. Senate bill 6159, therefore, deserves your hearty support.

Yours, truly,
Chas. B. Davenport.

Hon. T. C. Platt,
United States Senate.

Sometime between1908-1909
The appropriating act (enacted some months prior to completion of the classification and appraisal of plaintiffs’ lands) contemplated a reserve of no more than 12,800 acres. The National Bison Range limits were subsequently enlarged to a maximum of 20,000 acres, without additional appropriation.

1909 CONGRESS! ON AL RECORD-SEN ATE Feb 15th pg 2361

Mr. DIXON submitted an amendment relative to the establishment of a national bison range in the State of Montana, etc., intended to be proposed by him to the agricultural appropriation bill, which was referred to the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry and ordered to be printed .

He also submitted an amendment proposing to appropriate $3,000 for fencing the National Bison Range, as provided for by the act of May 23, 1908, etc., intended to be proposed by him to the agricultural appropriation bill, which was referred to the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry and ordered to be printed.



The San Francisco Call
San Francisco, California Feb 18th 1909

National Bison Range
Feb. 17 – Under the terms of the amendment proposed to the agriculture appropriations bill the president is directed to reserve not to exceed 20,000 acres of unallotted lands within the Flathead Indian Reservation. Montana, at the junction of the Pend D’Oreille and Jocko rivers, as a national bison range.



The Butte Miner
Butte Montana Feb 23 1909

Washington. Feb. 22. The agricultural appropriation bill reported to the senate today contains a senate committee amendment appropriating $7,000 for the maintenance of the Montana national bison range and other reservations for mammals and birds, and re appropriating the unexpended balance of $40,000 heretofore appropriated for fencing that range and directing the president to reserve lands within the Flathead Indian reservation of sufficient area to make the total area of the bison range 20,000 acres.


Yellowstone Monitor
Glendive, Montana May 6th 1909
Bison Range is Surveyed

Missoula, April 29.-The final survey of the Montana national bison range, located on the Flathead reservation, has been completed by Engineer E. W. Cramer, connected with the local forestry office. On the figures furnished by the survey the call for bids for fencing material was issued from the forest headquarters today. It is expected that the work of fencing the reserve can be completed by early in September, so that the buffalo now ready for the reserve, some 50 in number, can be installed in their new home and spend the coming winter in Montana.

The Montana national bison range is an ideal tract of land for the purpose and comprises 28 square miles. The tract was originally selected by Dr. M. J. Elrod of the University of Montana, and his selection was approved by the National Bison society, which, in turn, asked congress to set apart the land and a sum with which to buy and improve what part of it was necessary. Congress set apart $30,000 for this purpose and since that time the society has, through its own efforts, come into possession of more than 50 head of buffaloes to stock the range.


The Butte Daily Post
Butte Montana Oct 18 1909


Thirty-seven buffalo of the famous Conrad herd are now installed on the Montana national bison range lately established between Dixon and Ravalli through the efforts of the American Bison Society. This lot came in from Kalispell Saturday, and as many more are to be sent on during the fall. The principal buffalo on the range is Kalispell Chief, one of the largest animals in America. His estimated weight is 2,500 pounds.

Story of State Bison Range Tells How Eastern Society Purchased Herd at Kalispell

“Kalispell Chief Was Leader of Conrad Buffaloes; Michael Pablo Sold 708 Animals to Canadian Government – by ALBERT J. PASTOLL

Kalispell Chief Spring of 1909
Kalispell Chief Spring of 1909

Kalispell Chief” is one name that stands out in the story of the Montana national bison preserve. Not a white man and not an Indian has the name, but a buffalo – a real monarch of his kind.

This buffalo has the distinction of being the first buffalo presented to the American Bison society for stocking the range in western Montana. He was a Montana product and a true son of the west as is shown in this letter:

“Kalispell, Mont. Oct. 5, 1908
“Mr. Ernest Harold Baynes,
Secretary, American Bison Society,
Meriden, N. H. My
Dear Sir: After considering your suggestion while you were here a few days ago, namely, that inasmuch as Mr. Conrad was so much interested in the preservation of the pure blood American bison that he gave a great deal of personal time and means to the work, founding the C. E. Conrad herd, his heirs might present a pair to the Bison society in his name – as a nucleus of the Flathead reservation herd. We have decided to do so.

“We have selected for this gift the finest pair we own, Kalispell Chief.’ a 9-year-old male, an animal to which we believe .it would be difficult to find an equal in the world today, and as his mate, the herd leader, a vigorous, sagacious cow, having a calf each year – on which would be of greatest value to the new herd. We have depended upon her wise head and good sense in our management of the herd, and have no cow equal to her.

“Hoping that the Bison society will accept this gift in the spirit in which it is given, and wishing every success to the undertaking in which every one who gives these matters thought must be keenly interested. I remain,
“Yours very truly.
“Alicia D. Conrad.’

From Pablo Herd
The Conrad buffalo herd of Kalispell was descendant of 27 buffaloes from the Pablo-Allard herd, bought from Mrs. Allard about 1902, a few years after the death of her husband, when his heirs took over his interest in the herd.

When Secretary Baynes visited western Montana in September, 1908, he looked over the Conrad herd, which had increased to 92, including 18 calves born the same year. He was favorably impressed with this herd and was interested in their docile attitude, which was much like domestic cattle. Their summer range was an 800-acre hilly tract, six miles west of Kalispell. Every fall they were driven 16 miles along country roads, even through streets of Kalispell, to their winter range of 1,600 acres of grass land and cut over grain fields.

A brief resume of events leading to the establishing of the bison range in western Montana and the purchase of buffaloes for stocking the range may prove of interest, especially since the original herd was native to the state and Montana men had an active part.

Jan. 10, 1907, at the first annual meeting of the American Bison society, the president, William T. Hornaday, submitted a plan for establishing on the Flathead reservation in Montana, then soon to be opened to settlement, a large herd of buffaloes, or bison, to be known as the Montana national bison herd. It was proposed that it should be located on a range to be purchased and owned by the national government and that the nucleus herd should be presented to the government by the Bison society.

Elrod Picks Range
The plan was accepted and an appropriation of $250 was granted to defray expenses involved in examination of all available locations and cost of making a full report on the project. Dr. Morton J. Elrod of the State University at Missoula under- took the examination.

Dr. Elrod submitted his report in January, 1908, in which he recommended as an ideal site a tract of 29 square miles at Ravalli, on the Flathead reservation, north of the Jocko and east of the Flathead rivers. His recommendation for a range was adopted and Senator Joseph M. Dixon undertook, to introduce a bill in congress providing for purchase of the desired range and proper fencing, at a total cost or $40,000.

The measure was passed and became law May 23. 1908. The Bison society immediately started a national drive to raise $10,000 it had pledged as a gift to buy the nucleus herd if the government would provide the enclosure.

By March 20, 1909, through efforts of officers and members of the society $10,560 was collected. Secretary Baynes traveled about the United States visiting private buffalo herds, and was promised 13 buffaloes for the proposed bison preserve.

Having collected funds for the buffaloes the society appointed a purchasing committee consisting ; of President W. T. Hornaday, Vice President F.H. Kennard and Treasurer Clark Williams. They were entrusted with purchase of animals of pure strain, hardy stock and were to consider economy in transportation in their dealings.

Conrad Herd Best
It became clear that the bison herd at Kalispell founded by the late C. E. Conrad was the most logically suited to the needs of the society. Mr. Hornaday and Mr. Kennard came to Montana to inspect the new home for the buffalo, and to see the Conrad herd.

Inspection of the Conrad herd was made in September, 1909, when it was agreed by the committee that the buffaloes were in exceptionally good condition. After consideration, a price of $275 a head was agreed on, delivery to be made on the national bison range near Ravalli.

Thirty-four buffaloes of various ages were contracted for, 12 of which were males and the rest females. In addition, there was the gift of two buffaloes from the Conrad estate.

Actual estimates fixed the cost of land for the range at $28,995.48, which was far greater than expected and threatened to deplete the allotment for the fence. The department of agriculture insisted it was necessary to fence the whole range of 29 miles and not only a portion of it with what money there was available.

Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson, Dec. 16, 1909, called on congress for a deficiency appropriation of $7,700 with which to take care or completion of the range. Fencing was done by the forestry bureau and a house for the warden was built at a corner of the range six miles from the railroad station of Dixon. At Ravalli a switch from the railway led into the range, and was designated to be used for unloading the buffaloes.

Warden Appointed
Andrew R. Hodges of Colorado was appointed as warden of the Montana national bison herd and protector of the range. It was arranged that he go to Kalispell to witness crating and shipping of the buffaloes.

Warden Hodges reported to Mrs. Conrad at Kalispell Oct. 11 and announced that the range was fenced with heavy gauge wire and oak poles to a height of 61/2 feet. The next day the buffaloes were driven to the stockyards of the Great Northern railway for crating and loading.

Without noise or shouting, loading was begun. From the first is had been agreed that, to deliver the herd at the new range without excitement, without chasing and without exhaustion, it would be best to crate each animal separately and ship by rail.

The first animal crated was Kalispell Chief, the monarch of the herd. Mrs. Conrad watched the crating with interest and wrote an interesting account of the work in a letter to Hornaday.

“The big gate of the chute quietly swings open, then shuts and the grandest buffalo in the west stands alone – fearless, confident, sure of his friends and of himself. For 40 minutes he thought it over, not sulking, it was plainly to be seen, just thinking it out as he walked about the narrow enclosure. Finally, he made up his mind and went into the crate on a run, as if he had said to himself: “Well, here goes! I’ll see it through! It was lucky for us the bars held.

 Bull Is Rebellious
“Then came a very different proposition. It concerned the handsome young bull you selected as your ‘understudy’ to Kalispell Chief, to take the leadership in case anything should happen to him. For the last two years in fact, ever since he was grown up he has been jealous of the master, rebellious, whipped by the older animal whenever he considered it necessary but tolerated when he was good.

“For three hours he raged, charging the great gate three times, breaking it down, leaped like a mad thing. furious at this circle of quiet, determined men. At last he rushed into the crate, was shut in and stood in sullen silence while being rolled into the car. The lesson will stay with him. He has tried his utmost strength and failed and now I think he never again will try to destroy a fence and escape.”

One bull lay down in the chute and refused to rise and go into the crate. He was pulled in with ropes and when the door shut he rushed forward, smashing the top bars of the crate. He continued his fight from Kalispell to Ravalli, and Mrs. Conrad states:

“The crate reached Ravalli with two big chains around it and then they simply took the pieces of the crate from about him and let him go. There was not enough crate left to open.”

37 Buffaloes Loaded
In all, 37 buffaloes were loaded. Early in the spring of 1909, Charles Goodnight of Texas forwarded his gift pair of young buffaloes to the Conrad estate at Kalispell, the be kept there pending erection of the fence at the bison preserve. The male buffalo died, and the female was shipped with the Conrad herd to Ravalli.

Oct. 16 the “buffalo special” from Kalispell was run up the siding switch at Ravalli to the bison range. The next day the 37 buffaloes were introduced to their new home, being in fine condition after their train ride. In May, 1910, 10 gift buffaloes arrived at the range to bring the total of the nucleus herd to 47.

A census of buffaloes on the Montana bison preserve Jan. 1 1914 showed the herd had increased to 97 and was well on the way toward justifying efforts to the Bison society for “the permanent preservation and increase of the American bison.”

There is a sequel to this story. Michael Pablo sold his herd of buffaloes to the Canadian government.

Having evaded capture in the roundup of the Pablo buffalo herd in western Montana, 75 buffaloes sought refuge in the mountains of the Mission range and vicinity. The band was known as the “outlaw remnant” of the bison herd.

Outlaws though they were in the sense that they refused to acknowledge man as their master, these buffaloes represented the survival of the fittest because they had evaded all attempts between 1907 and 1910 to capture them and send them to Canada with the rest of the buffaloes purchased for the Canadian buffalo park.

Decides on a Hunt
It was this band of buffalo outlaws, both cows and bulls, that caused so much wear and tear on horse and rider, for they remained masters of the situation after wearing out Pablo’s cowboys, Flathead riders and Blackfeet assistants. Courageous, swift of foot and strong of wind and limb, these buffaloes caused their pursuers much trouble and many a faithful horse lost his strength and was broken in the fierce relays that often averaged close to 60 miles daily for two weeks.

Like a game of hide and seek, the roundup shifted frequently over the Jocko and Mission valley. It seemed more like a game of follow the leader with the buffalo herd that swam rivers, scattered in the forest and hid in sheltered ravines. Stampedes were frequent, for when a buffalo bull wanted to get away, he just went and the chase was on again.

Despairing of rounding up his buffalo herd that had turned native, Michael “Pablo decided that, even though they were worth $250 a head if delivered at the station at Ravalli for shipment to Canada, it would be best to declare open season on them for hunters. The news became circulated that anyone who wished to hunt buffaloes in 1910 could really do so by paying $250 for the privilege of making a kill. After that the trophy would be hauled to the railroad station as an accommodation included in the bargain.

Warden Says “No”
Word spread far and even penetrated into Canada. From this neighboring country came several hunters, which brought the number of trophy seekers to 10. At this stage of development of the hunting project, a dissenting opinion became current, for many believed the outlaw buffaloes not only earned their freedom but were also entitled to protection.

Since originally the buffaloes were private property. Pablo felt he was dealing with his private affairs in arranging for the hunt, especially since the reservation would soon be opened to settlement.

The game warden of Montana was caught between two conflicting opinions and, as a last resort, appealed to the attorney general for guidance as to the legality of killing of buffaloes in Montana, the hunt would be contrary to law. In fact, since the outlaws had entirely escaped from Pablo and become wild, with no controlling ownership over them, they had distinctly come under the protection of the laws of the state.

This decision came a little tardy for prospective hunters were on their way to western Montana. The game warden issued a warning that, even though good arguments might be advanced why the hunt was legal and should proceed, he would arrest anyone taking part in the killing of buffaloes.

The hunt did not take place. Of the outlaw buffaloes a number were captured and shipped to Canada. Others no doubt fell before the bullets of poachers.

Pablo Sold 708
In the great buffalo roundup a total of 708 buffaloes were received by Canada from Michael Pablo. Records of the Canadian national herd show the following figures:
First, second, 1907 …………. 410
Third, July, 1909…………… 190
Fourth, October 1909,…. …. 28
Fifth, June. 1910……………. 38
Sixth, October,1910………… 28
Seventh, May, 1911…………. 7
Eighth, June, 1912…………… 7
Total received from Pablo. 708-published by Great Falls Tribune -Great Falls Montana Feb 23, 1933



Lead Daily Call
Lead, South Dakota, Dec 12, 1914 

Extracts From the Annual Report of the Biology Survey to Agriculture Department.

Washington, D. C., Dec. 11. — The following are extracts from the annual report of the Bureau of biology survey, United States Department of agriculture, referring to the game reservations other than those for the protection of birds:

National Bison Range. With an addition of 19 calves born to the herd of buffalo on the National Bison Range Montana during the past year, the total number of the herd is now 115. It is difficult to ascertain the number of elk on the range, but 25 had have been observed by the warden in charge, an increase of 1 over the last year. There were 9 antelope on the range at the end of the fiscal year, but the number of young born in the past spring is not yet known. No animals have died during the year.


The Powder River Country Examiner
Broadus, Montana Feb 11, 1921

“Statistics of the American Bison society show that on Jan. 1, 1920, there were 3,393 captive and wild buffalo in the United States, of which 1,032 were under the direct protection of the federal government. The rate at which the animals are ‘coming back’ may be partially realized from the fact that the Jan. 1, 1920, figures give 298 buffalo on the national bison range at Moise, Mont., while recent figures show 336. The nucleus of this herd was 40 buffalo in 1909. The leader is Kalispell Chief, a fine old veteran, who has maintained the primacy of the herd through the years. This herd is under the protection of the biological survey.


The Americana 1923 edition

Pg 394 MONTANA NATIONAL BISON RANGE AND HERD.— The range is in western Montana, along the Northern Pacific Railroad between Ravalli and Dixon. The tract set apart for the home of the herd contains approximately 20,000 acres, with both grazing land and timber. In the centre is a mountain about 2,500 feet high, with grassy slopes and wooded ridges. On the north side of the range several miles of Post Creek are included. On the south side the range takes in about a mile of the Jocko River. In the interior are several large springs. The place is ideal for buffalo. It is estimated the food supply is sufficient for a herd of from 1,500 to 2,500 animals. The range was selected by Prof. M. J. Elrod, of the University of Montana, for the American Bison Society, with W. T. Hornaday, then president. In 1908 Senator Dixon of Montana introduced in Congress a bill to provide for the purchase of the range and for fencing. This became a law in May 1908. The American Bison Society raised a fund of $10,560 for the purchase of bison for the range. Thirty-seven animals made the nucleus of the present herd, about 300 (spring of 1919). In addition, elk, antelope and white-tailed deer have been added since, and are doing well. The selection of the range was a part of the plan of the American Bison Society to save the bison from extinction. Mr. Hornaday expressed the opinion that this herd alone, one of several now in the United States, is sufficient to save the species from becoming extinct. The location is ideal, the surface is sufficiently undulating to afford protection from storms from any direction, there is abundance of bunch grass, it is easy of access and the animals subsist summer and winter upon the vegetation of the range. Consult Report of the American Bison Society (1908) and subsequent reports.

Pg 475 The National Bison Range, under the control of the United States Biological Survey, located at Ravalli, a few miles west of Missoula, contains nearly 20,000 acres. In it are buffalo, antelope, elk and deer. The Willow Creek Bird Reservation, about one section, is near Augusta, in Lewis and Clark County, and is for the protection of plover and avocets. The Flathead Lake Bird Reservation consists of two small islands in Flathead Lake.


Dayton Daily News
Dayton Ohio Nov 13, 1924

Buffalo Meat Served in Dining Cars

The meat comes from the Montana National Bison range established near Ravalli, Montana, in 1909 for the preservation of the buffalo or bison. Thirty-seven head were turned upon the range Oct. 17, 1909. The herd now numbers 500. Each year, it is explained, it is necessary to dispose of a number of the animals in order to keep the herd within the food capacity of the preserve.



The Billings Gazette
Billings Montana Nov 24, 1924

Slaughter of Buffalo On at Bison Range

Missoula, Nov. 23. (Special) Killing of buffalo on the national bison range, 33 miles west of Missoula has been started under the direction of the warden and his deputies. It is expected that 200 of the 700 buffalo on the reserve will be slain or shipped to other places in the country. It is understood an order has been received for 40 head to be sent alive to California, where a place is waiting for them.

There are too many bison for the range and the forage has been reduced to an alarming degree. However, in reducing the herd, the older bulls or those unfit for breeding or propagation are the ones which are to be exterminated. The range also has about 500 elk and It Is said If the elk were not on the range that there would be sufficient feed for the buffalo.

Special loading corrals have been built and the buffalo are driven into these end the pick then made of those to be killed or shipped.


The Billings Gazette
Billings, Montana 24 May 1928

Twenty-three buffalo, two and four year-olds, will be shipped to the Alaskan game commission June 13 or 14, Mr. Rose said. The shipment, to be accompanied from Moiese by a man sent down from Alaska, will be used to restock a large area north of Fairbank, Alaska. The shipment will include 17 cows and six bulls.


The Missoulian
Missoula, Montana 15 Jun 1928

Twenty-three Montana bison- will form the nucleus of a herd to be begun in northern Alaska. The animals, selected from the herd at the national bison range at Moiese, were loaded into cars yesterday for shipment to Seattle, from where they will be transferred ‘ to ships and sent to Alaska. Each of the animals was crated in an individual container, and placed in an express car for fast transportation to the coast. – The bison were ordered by the Alaska Game commission some time ago.


The Montana Standard
Butte, Montana April 14 1929

Twenty-three buffalo shipped from the National Bison range near Moiese, Mont, to Alaska by the Alaska Game Commission have readily adapted themselves to that country’s climate, says word received at the state game warden’s office. (The introduction of buffalo into Alaska is an experiment which is being ‘watched with interest by wild-life conservationists. The animals were taken from the Montana range last June. Nineteen were liberated near McCarty, Alaska territory, and four were kept at the reindeer experiment station of the biological survey at Fairbanks for experimental purposes.)


Bison Range Office and Records Burned- May of 1930

Ruined by a fire which encompassed the of flee building near Moiese. No one knows how the fire started, but records and some of Warden Franks personal property were destroyed. Thousand of plants and records of forage for bison, as well as some records collected since the range was established in 1909, were burned Warden Rose’s loss was to the value of $1,500 and also many documents of his work.


Great Falls Tribune 
Great Falls Montana Aug 26, 1930

Bison Not Likely to Suffer From Drouth, Is Report
Special to The Tribune.

MISSOULA. Aug. 25. Bison on the national bison range northwest of her will not suffer from drouth conditions. Warden Frank Rose announces. The bison have ranged through the summer on the north side of the reserve, where they are still located. Later they will be moved to the south side, which has sufficient forage to carry them through the winter months. It will not be necessary to feed any of the bison this winter, the warden says. Natural forage will provide for all of their wants until the new grass crops up in the spring.

The herd is in splendid shape, the older animals fattening and the calves growing fast. So far no plans have been made for the disposal of any of the bison.

An artesian well was struck at 150 feet at the bison range headquarters, eliminating water worries there. It will not be necessary to do any pumping in the future is a result of striking this well. The range is well watered and the various small springs scattered about the reserve are still providing water for the animals.


Great Falls Tribune
Great Falls, Montana July 7, 1933


Special to The Tribune.

documented proof exists that Pence exchanged Treasonous emails..
US Fish & Wildlife

DIXON, July 6. An albino buffalo was born about six weeks ago at the national bison range near Moiese. The animal is pure white except for a few patches of brown hair on the upper part of the head. This is the first albino buffalo to be born on the reserve and records show only two others, one at Pierre, S. D., about 50 years ago and another which was killed by an Indian trader in the early days.

R.S. Norton, warden of the bison range, reports that more than 100 buffalo calves were born on the range this spring.

Even when millions of buffalo lived on the great plains, a white buffalo was so rare that few were observed. “One or two in a lifetime was the utmost that any hunter secured,” says Ernest Thompson Seton, and Dr. W. T. Hornaday tells that he “met many old-time buffalo hunters, who had killed thousands and seen scores of thousands of buffalo, yet never had seen a white one.” According to E. Douglas Branch there was “only one white animal in the five million and more bison of the southern herd.” Dr. Hornaday believed that “not over 10 or 11 white buffalo, or white buffalo skins were ever seen by white men.” A single albino was raised about 30 years ago in a herd at Pierre, S. D says Dr. Robert S. Norton, protector or the national bison range.

The Indians looked upon an albino buffalo with awe, considered it “big medicine,” and for a good skin paid the price of 10 or 15 horses. Then piety, says Branch, demanded that three or four years after the purchase the skin should be offered to the wind and rain. The white man also was willing to pay a high price for an albino skin. Branch tells that the single albino of the southern herd fell to the gun of a plainsman, who sold it for $1,000. So highly were the white buffalo prized that, said Hornaday, not a single one, so far as I can learn, ever had the good fortune to attain adult size.”

“The national bison range,” says Paul G. Redington, chief of the bureau of biological survey, “is maintained to assist in perpetuating the American buffalo, which at the time of the establishment of the range was threatened with extermination. We are therefore much interested in having in the herd an example of a variation so rare as the white buffalo. When only one was known in a herd of more than 5,000,000, it is particularly interesting that we should have this “big medicine’ in a herd of about 500 animals.”


Many Bison Roam National Range Dec 1933

There are 544 buffalo on the National Bison Range according to a report filed with the Biological survey by officials of the reserve.

The 1932 crop of bison was 125, the report states, there were 73 were born this spring, including an albino calf.

During the past year, the herd was decreased by the elimination of 89 buffalo, 86 elk and seven deer to prevent overgrazing. Three buffalo and 30 elk were sold for park purposes and the others were disposed of as food.

The Yellowstone Park bison herd, which is now 1,100 head, is to be culled soon by the slaughter of 200. The game department here has been informed to distribute the meat to needy Indians and wards of the government.


Great Falls Tribune
Great Falls Montana Dec 19, 1933

The Alaska game commission and the biological survey in 1928 transferred the buffaloes to the territory from the bureau’s bison range In Montana.

Hawaii_Omnibus_Bill National Bison Range 1960
IS. 1226, 86th Cong., 1st sess.]

In addition to above comments, the following minor changes in the bill are suggested for your consideration.

(5) Page 17, lines 4 and 5 – change “fish and wildlife preservation” to  “conservation and development of fish and wildlife, Including replacement of land areas and structures of the National Bison Range which would  be inundated or rendered useless by the project”.

Page 679

The National Bison Range was established by act of Congress in 1908. It consists of about 18,500 acres. The range was constructed by public subscription as well as by appropriation of Congress. Is it one of the finest if not the finest area for bison that we have left in the country.

If the Knowles project is to be constructed, some 2,200 acres of range, including both open land and wintering areas, would be lost by inundation. An additional 3,000 acres and the principal water supplies would be isolated by the necessary relocation of the railroad right of way. This would mean that something over 5,000 acres of the total would be rendered unusable as part of the range. This would take the very heart out of it.



Bison Calf headed for Branding

(Robert Larsson Photo)

This is the last of the National Bison Range calves to be branded. The 68-pound calf is being carried by Ed Krantz and on the right Jack Lambshire. 100 bison were culled for butchering in Moise after the inspection, that left a remainder of 350 animals. Weighing in at 1,925 pounds was the largest bull.

(Branding Bison)





History of the Bison Range Links:

1971 – Broken Hellgate Treaty
By order of the Court of April 23, 1971, judgment was entered for the plaintiffs, in the claim set forth in Paragraph 10 of the petition, as amended, in the amount of six million sixty-six thousand six hundred sixty-eight dollars and seventy-eight cents ($6,066,668.78), plus interest thereon, not as interest but as a part of just compensation, at the rate of 5 percent per annum from January 1, 1912, to January 1, 1934, and at the rate of 4 percent per annum thereafter until paid

Valley Journal

Record of Decision for the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Comprehensive Conservation Plan for the
National Bison Range

2019 Several papers printed this:

In 1908, the CSKT was paid the then-going rate of $1.25 per acre for the NBR land, $645,600 total in today’s currency. In 1972, the CSKT received an additional $21 million (over $100 million in today’s currency), tax free, as additional compensation for reservation land, including the NBR, taken by the federal, state and local governments for townships, schools, parks, and wildlife preserves. Like almost 40 percent of the Flathead Indian Reservation, the NBR is non-tribal deeded land.