Yellowstone Bison...in Iowa?

Some of the park's buffalo herd could be relocated.
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Some of the park's buffalo herd could be relocated.

Some of Yellowstone National Park's iconic bison could soon find themselves in radically different surroundings.

The Associated Press reports that the Department of the Interior has identified 20 possible sites in 10 different states that may be suitable for bison reintroduction, including the Grand Canyon and Iowa's Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge.

The move comes as part of a long-term government effort to restore a nationwide buffalo population. Millions of buffalo once roamed the continental U.S., but widespread hunting in the 19th century greatly diminished their numbers.

Ranchers in Montana have voiced opposition to bison reintroduction efforts in their state, citing concerns about the animal-borne disease brucellosis. Yellowstone bison were quarantined as a precaution, but many in the cattle industry remain wary and the pilot program has seen mixed results thus far.

Any potential bison reintroduction will likely take between five and ten years to implement.

Read more: Associated Press