As part of a program to reduce conflicts between cattle and wildlife, the National Wildlife Federation has negotiated two important land deals with ranchers in the Yellowstone National Park region.
In Wyoming in August, the federation raised $250,000 from other conservation groups, foundations and donors to buy out 77,000 acres of the Blackrock-Spread Creek grazing allotment in Bridger-Teton National Forest. Grizzly bears had preyed on cattle there, on the edge of Grand Teton National Park, and it’s also habitat for wolves, moose, elk and bison.
And in Montana last spring, the federation raised $110,000 to retire the 2,400-acre grazing allotment on Horse Butte. Bison from Yellowstone Park often stray onto Horse Butte, where they face hazing and execution by state and federal agents, due to fears they’ll spread brucellosis to cattle (HCN, 5/13/02: Bison under the gun — again). Now the only cattle on Horse Butte graze a patch of private ranchland.
Retiring the Horse Butte allotment “was a big step in the right direction,” says Tom France, the federation’s regional director. Both deals involved “a willing seller, and a willing agency” — the U.S. Forest Service, which supported the group’s goals in both places.