The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the National Park Foundation released four adult bison into a newly expanded habitat in Badlands National Park on October 11, the WWF said.
The release marks the first time the creatures have set hoof on that particular parcel of land since 1877, the WWF said in a press announcement.
The expanded area abuts South Dakota’s scenic Highway 240, meaning visitors will be able to observe the four new bison, as well as the park’s existing bison herd of 1,200, should the animals choose to graze on the annexed acres, according to the Argus Leader.
The park’s existing herd had been confined to a secluded wilderness area, where visitors couldn’t see them, the Argus Leader said.
The WWF raised “nearly $750,000” to expand the existing bison habitat from 57,640 acres to 80,193 acres and announced plans to foster five distinct bison herds to “increase the genetic health of this species,” they said.
Video from the WWF shows the four bison running out of a trailer and into the snow-covered grass of their regained territory.
News reports cited Blaine Kortemeyer, the park’s acting chief of interpretation, as saying, “Bison are going to be closer to people now … just give them their space.”