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National Bison Range National Wildlife Refuge, MT
Fish and Wildlife Service
Established in 1908, the National Bison Range is one of the oldest wildlife refuges in the nation. It was established with the first Congressional appropriations ever made for the purchase of lands for a wildlife refuge. The original herd of bison, released in 1909, was purchased with private money raised by the American Bison Society and then donated to the Refuge.
The Bison Range helped bring the bison back from the edge of extinction. Today, 350-500 bison call this Refuge home. To keep the herd in balance with their habitat, surplus bison are donated and/or sold live.
Much of the Range was once surrounded by prehistoric Lake Missoula, which was formed by a glacial dam 10,000 years ago. Old beach lines are still evident on north-facing slopes. Today, the National Bison Range is a diverse ecosystem of grasslands, Douglas fir and ponderosa pine forests, riparian areas, and ponds. The National Bison Range is one of the last intact publicly-owned palouse prairie native grasslands in the United States. In addition to herds of bison, it supports populations of elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn, and bighorn sheep as well as coyotes, mountain lions, bears, and bobcats. The Refuge has recorded 211 bird species.
Address:132 Bison Range Road
Directions:National Bison Range is located in the Mission Valley of northwest Montana. From the south, take Highway 93 north to Ravalli, turning west on Highway 200 to Highway 212. Travel north on Highway 212 for 5 miles to the entrance. From the north, take Highway 93 south of Polson for 18 miles to State Highway 212; travel 12 miles to the entrance. From the west, turn north off Interstate 90 onto Highway 135 at St. Regis. Turn east at Highway 200 to Highway 212 just east of Dixon. Travel north on Highway 212 for 5 miles