On Friday, Oct. 11 four bull bison were released on 22,000 acres of land in the Badlands National Park in Western South Dakota. It is the first time since 1877 that bison have walked on this part of South Dakota land near Pinnacles Overlook in the Badlands.

Newscenter.com is quoting National Park Service Associate Director Raymond Sauvot as saying: “What we witnessed earlier today represents a critical part of the long-term recovery and survival of this most unbelievable and important species.”

The Rapid City Journal reports that the addition of 22,000 acres of land will increase the bison range to 80,193 acres. The new land acquisition will make it possible for the 1200 park bison currently living in the northern part of the Badlands National park to be able to migrate to the southern portion where the four bulls were reals ed.

The cooperating entities that made this possible include the National Park Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, Defenders of Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy, Badlands Natural History Association, and the Badlands National Park Conservancy. Over $743,000 was donated with a contribution from the National Park Service Centennial Challenge fund of $475,000.