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In our first season, we explore the story of the American bison. The United States named bison the national mammal, but we still haven't decided if we're ready to restore them as wild animals on the American landscape. Could we ever live with wild, free-roaming bison again? Should we try? Why, or why not?
Episode 1: For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People
Yellowstone National Park is where we saved the American bison from extinction. But each year, we slaughter hundreds of animals from this prized herd. Why?
Episode 2: "The Red Man Was Pressed"
How did we go from more than 50 million wild bison to just 23 free-roaming animals? And how does the decimation of the herds relate to the oppression of Native Americans?
Episode 3: Born Free
Many cattle ranchers view wild bison as a threat to their livelihoods. But some think cattle and bison can coexist. In this episode, you'll meet two cattle ranchers with different perspectives on wild bison.
We'll also take you on a controversial bison hunt happening at the boundary of Yellowstone National Park.
Episode 4: Tatanka Oyate
In episode four, we meet Robbie Magnan of the Fort Peck Tribes. He believes his community can prosper in the future by reconnecting with their roots as the Tatanka Oyate -- the buffalo people. Magnan has built a quarantine facility that could be an alternative to the Yellowstone bison slaughter, but right now it sits empty while more than a thousand bison are being culled from the herd. Why? We'll learn more about Magnan's vision for bison restoration, and investigate why some people are opposed to it.
Episode 5: Heirs to the Most Glorious Heritage
"We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune."
~ Theodore Roosevelt
In 1908, the National Bison Range was created by carving 18,000 acres out of Montana's Flathead Reservation. Now, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it is willing to transfer the land back to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. But, a lawsuit has been filed to stop the proposed transfer. In this episode we meet tribal members who feel they are the rightful stewards of the land and the historic bison herd, and others who are trying to stop the transfer.
Episode 6: Territory Folks Should All Be Pals
We're asking for your input on how to manage the Yellowstone bison. What are your ideas for how to solve this intractable problem?
In this episode we travel to the American Prairie Reserve - a conservation project in the heart of Montana that could eventually be home to 10,000 bison. The vision is to stitch together 3.5 million acres of public and private lands to form the largest wildlife park in the lower 48. But some nearby ranchers feel the push to build the APR is pushing them off their land, and they're mounting a resistance.
We also try to solve the Great Elk Mystery: why are elk that have been exposed to brucellosis allowed to roam free in Montana, while bison are not?
Episode 7: Oh Give Me a Home
In the last episode of season one, we travel to the Blackfeet Nation and the Oakland Zoo, and we return to Gardiner, Montana, to we meet some of the only people in America who are growing up with wild bison. And we tackle some of the big questions driving this whole investigation: what is our future with this animal? How does that connect with our history? Can America ever have wild, free-roaming bison again? Should we try? Why, or why not?