Bison Community Plans Historic Rendezvous in Montana in July
International Conference is First in U.S. in a Decade
The largest gathering of the bison community in the past five years, scheduled July 4th-8th in Big Sky, MT, is being slated as one-part celebration of the growth of the bison business, one part planning for future expansion, and one part rest and relaxation for the estimated 500 participants from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and around the world.
The fifth-ever International Bison Conference, set for July 4th-8th, will bring ranchers, researchers, tribal leaders, policymakers, culinary professionals and buffalo enthusiasts to Big Sky, MT for workshops, planning sessions, tours, recreational activities, musical entertainment, and more, according to Aaron Paulson, the Montana bison rancher who is heading the conference planning committee.
“We are excited to host this gathering of the international bison community,” Paulson said. “The theme, Big Skies, Bright Horizons, really sums up the state of the bison community as we prepare to gather this summer.”
The conference is scheduled to kick off July 4th with an all-American get-together at the historic 320 Guest Ranch near Big Sky. Attendees will enjoy an old-fashioned chuck wagon, musical entertainment, and recreational activities during the day, before returning to Big Sky for fireworks.
Educational and informational sessions will dominate the morning schedules on July 5th-7th. Keynote speakers each day include Dr. David Hughes of Imperial College in London, Dr. James Hurrell, director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Laurie Demeritt, CEO of the Hartman Group research firm. Breakout sessions will cover the spectrum of herd health issues, bison meat marketing, and business expansion.
The Wednesday and Thursday sessions will be held at the Big Sky Resort, and attendees will head to Ted Turner’s Flying D Ranch nearby for the Friday events. On Saturday, July 8th, an optional tour of Yellowstone National Park is available for those who want to spend a little extra time in the region.
Full conference details, including on-line registration, are available at Early-bird registration rates apply through May 15th.
“The area around Big Sky is steeped in the history of bison, so it’s a fitting location for the International Bison Conference,” said Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association. “Great herds of bison shaped the landscape of this region and sustained the Native Americans for centuries. When bison perched on the brink of extinction in the late 1800’s, Yellowstone Park housed about 25 surviving animals, while a handful of Montana ranchers gathered up remnants of the decimated herds to create the basis for the nearly 400,000 bison that now thrive in North America.”  
“We have a lot to celebrate, and even brighter horizons ahead,” Carter said.