Tribal Buffalo Herd Needs Your Help!


Above: (July 9th, 2007) Tribal Pasture burned in the Stampede Fire on the Pine Ridge Reservation

More News on the Stampede Fire on Pine Ridge
In rural South Western South Dakota, home to half of the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s buffalo herds a fast sweeping fire, called the Stampede fire named because of the response from the buffalo, has wiped out the entire vegetation, fence and a small number of buffalo.

The Slim Buttes Pasture is home to roughly 300 head of buffalo. The rugged pasture of deep gulley’s and steep hills has been completely wiped of any edible vegetation for the buffalo. The fence of 34 miles has been nearly completely destroyed. The buffalo as of today are still within the boundaries of their original home. The corrals and sorting wings have been destroyed. The staff of the Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation, a total of fifteen individuals, has been extremely busy trying to sustain the herd and repair the damage to the corrals.

The fire which took place on Saturday and Sunday, July 7th and 8th created a crisis for the Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation. On Monday the OSPRA board held an emergency meeting in the Bureau of Indian Affairs Conference Room. The board officially documented the need to declare a drought and disaster designation and to have the Oglala Sioux Tribe forward this on to FEMA and other Federal Agencies to assist, financially, with the excessive amount of needs. The Bureau of Indian Affairs Wild land Fire is assisting in putting together the initial damage assessment. Much wild life perished and the OSPRA biologists’ are busy attempting to account for all buffalo and perished wild life. Several birds and owls have been found dead. The rutting or breeding season for the buffalo is currently underway. Because of the disaster the Oglala Sioux Tribal buffalo herd may suffer long-lasting effects on their fertility rates.

The Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority are in the process of attempting to rebuild the corrals, find hay and water. Several calls have been made and public information is being sent out. The rebuilding of the corral is the first priority. Once the wing and corral is rebuilt, the buffalo can then be rounded up and transferred to another pasture. This is a short-term fix. The other buffalo and elk pasture are currently at maximum capacity and the additional buffalo will need to be moved within four to six months. During this time the buffalo will need to be supplemented with hay.

The fence will need to be repaired and in many locations replaced. The cost for buffalo fence is exorbitant and the OSPRA does not have the dollars to rebuild or repair the fence. Therefore, we are sending out this little piece of information asking for any type of monetary or fencing donations.

Highlights:

300 buffalo need to be transported
Corral Rebuilding cost – $51,092.55
Fence Rebuilding cost – $562,342.52
Transporting cost – $4,800

Hay/Feed cost – $115,200.00

Send Your Support to OSPRA’s Stampede Fire Fund

Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority

P.O. BOX 570
Kyle, SD 57752
605/455-2584

[email protected]

Banking Information:

First National Bank
134 N. Main Street
PO BOX 290
Gordon, NE 69343
Phone: 308/282-1103
Fax: 308/282-08
Account Name: Stampede Fire Fund
Account Number: 138150

Bank Routing #: 104102781

About OSPRA

The Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority (OSPRA) is responsible for wildlife management policies, activities and plans for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. OSPRA, through its “Lakota Stewardship Model”, has worked diligently to manage tribal lands in a culturally appropriate manner with decisions based on scientific data. Maintaining species and community diversity is a critical component of our ecological and cultural heritage.

The Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority (OSPRA) is currently in its 32nd year as a Tribally Chartered Organization of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. OSPRA is charged with wildlife management policies and activities for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation which encompasses about 2 million acres, roughly the size of Connecticut. Its population – primarily Lakota – is currently estimated at approximately 25,000. Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is a land of tremendous geographic diversity, ranging from undulating prairies to the stark and picturesque badlands. With the adjacent Badlands National Park, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is considered to be one of the most intact indigenous prairie ecosystems in North America.

Since its original Charter in 1973, OSPRA has taken the lead role in protecting and preserving the natural and biological resources of the Tribe. OSPRA has four basic divisions:

    • 1) Buffalo/Elk Division
    • 2) Biology Division
    • 3) Enforcement Ranger Division
    • 4) Administration Division

The Buffalo/Elk Division has steadily increased the Tribe’s buffalo herd from just a few animals to a population of almost 1,000 animals grazing naturally over approximately 31,000 acres of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. We have carefully maintained the genetic integrity of the herd. Our management practices regard
ing the buffalo demonstrate OSPRA’s capacity to nurture a species to health. In addition, these ranges have been utilized for several species studies and reintroductions, including black-tailed prairie dogs, burrowing owls, and ferruginous hawks. The OSPRA has also assisted in the Badlands National Park’s Black Footed Ferret Reintroduction Program.

The Enforcement Ranger Division is responsible for enforcement of game laws on the Reservation in addition to such activities as game survey, research projects, and educational initiatives. All Rangers are fully certified law enforcement officers with authority to investigate offenses, make arrest, etc. Each Ranger is making a career at OSPRA and most have more than 10 years of service to the organization. OSPRA has invested considerable training in the officers, especially related to wildlife management. The proposed project will make extensive use of skills possessed by our Rangers and will provide additional opportunities for them to engage in productive research and receive additional professional training.

OSPRA’s Administration Division has been significantly strengthened in the past year. The new OSPRA Executive Director has extensive experience in program administration and management. Besides having an extensive background in environmental issues, he is considered to be a leading cultural figure on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He has implemented steps to document performance standards among staff and has streamlined administrative functions. OSPRA’s Finance Office is now utilizing a Comptroller to enhance accountability.

The Executive Director has identified wildlife research as a necessary component of OSPRA. The organization has already developed essential elements of its “Lakota Stewardship Model” that emphasizes both the biological and cultural aspects of wildlife management. Through this plan OSPRA has worked diligently to manage tribal lands in a culturally appropriate manner and to create a harmonious balance between plant and animal life requirements and the needs of the human population. One of OSPRA’s primary objectives is to restore key elements within the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation ecosystem to a condition before attempts were made to introduce systematic agriculture.

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