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National Bison Range

A large bull bison stands in the midst of shortgrass prairie habitat with mountains rising in the distance.
58355 Bison Range Road
Moiese, MT   59824
E-mail: bisonrange@fws.gov
Phone Number: 406-644-2211
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While the National Bison Range's primary purpose is to preserve wild bison, the Range also provides habitat for many other wildlife species.
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National Bison Range

Established in 1908, the National Bison Range is one of the oldest national wildlife refuges in the nation. It offers wonderful opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography of large animals such as elk, deer, bighorn sheep, black bear, and of course, bison.

Getting There . . .
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

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These driving directions are provided as a general guide only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use.

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Wildlife and Habitat

Much of the Range was once surrounded by prehistoric Lake Missoula, which was formed by a glacial dam 10,000 years ago. The old beach lines of Lake Missoula are still visible on north-facing slopes.

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The National Bison Range was established with the first Congressional appropriations ever made for the purchase of lands for a national wildlife refuge.

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Management Activities
To keep the herd in balance with their habitat, surplus bison are donated and/or sold live each year. Donations of animals are made to start or supplement other public herds. Bison have also been donated to the InterTribal Bison Cooperative, which places animals on tribal lands. Others are sold live and have been the nucleus of a number of private herds located throughout the country. Current work on the bison emphasizes herd health and DNA testing.

Because the National Bison Range consists of native prairie, the goal of management efforts is to keep it in good health. An extensive invasive plant control program is in place, using an integrated pest management program (IPM). Biological control using insects has been part of this IPM program since 1948; the diversity of released IPM insects now totals 24 different species.

A number of researchers have projects on the Refuge under special use permits. Current studies include bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, grasshoppers, water quality, biological weed control, and bison DNA testing.

The National Bison Range staff administers nearby Ninepipe and Pablo National Wildlife Refuges and several waterfowl production areas. Each of these areas provides excellent wildlife viewing and photo opportunities for waterfowl and other water birds. The National Bison Range staff also administers a conservation easement program in the Mission Valley. While ownership of land remains with the private owners of the easements, more than 6,300 acres of land have been preserved in perpetuity.