National Wildlife Federation

National Wildlife Federation's mission is to inspire Americans to protect wildlife four our children's future. NWF works with more than 4 million members, partners and supporters in communities across the country to protect and restore wildlife habitat, confront climate change and connect people with nature.
Aug 8, 2014

National Wildlife Federation Adopt A Wildlife Acre Program

The National Wildlife Federation’s Adopt a Wildlife Acre program plans to place special emphasis during the next year on retiring domestic sheep grazing allotments in Idaho and Wyoming that pose significant threats to bighorn sheep populations.

Bighorn sheep often contract deadly diseases from domestic sheep. These disease outbreaks frequently reduce herd sizes by more than seventy per cent.

The U.S. Forest Service will soon complete an analysis of the risk posed by domestic sheep/bighorn sheep conflicts on National Forests in the West. The National Wildlife Federation believes this analysis will help pinpoint the situations where our Adopt a Wildlife Acre program will do the most good.

May 9, 2014

Adopt-a-Wildlife Acre Project Update May 2014

It has taken an incredible amount of work over the past decade to get us to the point we’re at today. NWF has focused on voluntary grazing retirements, and this approach has won strong public support as a proactive, free-market method to solving conflicts involving wildlife and livestock. Our first key retirement for bison was the Horse Butte allotment, which resolved a significant conflict on the western side of the park.  We then retired the Cache-Eldridge and Wapiti allotments in the Gallatin River drainage, which opens up a substantial area suitable for bison. Then we retired the Slip and Slide allotment north of the park by Gardiner.

But perhaps our most important grazing agreement involved private land.  Working in partnership with Fish, Wildlife and Parks, NWF negotiated an agreement with the Church Universal and Triumphant to cease cattle grazing on the church-owned Royal Teton Ranch, near Yellowstone’s northern entrance.  This has been a bottleneck for bison movement north of the park.

These retirements have led to the current situation where the risk of contact between bison and livestock is very low.  And we know that the potential for disease transmission between bison and cattle is extremely low if separation is maintained during birthing periods.

Wildlife advocates, of course, see the value of opening more habitat to bison. But the livestock industry should welcome the move as well. Why?

As long as bison are effectively confined within the borders of the national park, managing the species’ population and movements will remain extremely difficult.  And, as history has shown, it’s only a matter of time before the next bad winter sends bison into troubling territory—resulting in the untenable situation of hazing, capturing and slaughtering wildlife.  By allowing bison to occupy sizeable habitat outside the park year-round, Fish, Wildlife and Parks, interested tribes, and Montana sportsmen will have the opportunity to play their constructive, traditional and socially acceptable roles to help manage the bison to a population that is suitable to livestock interests.

Less conflict, less risk, more opportunity and more room for bison to roam free: We have a historic opportunity to resolve a frustrating and longstanding conflict. The hard work’s been done. Now it’s just a matter of encouraging state officials to say “yes” to the win-win solution before them.

Help us give bison room to roam by taking action now! 

Learn more about our symbolic adoption program.

We thank you for your help in retiring this critical acreage! 

Feb 10, 2014

Adopt a Wildlife Acre Project Report February 2014

National Wildlife Federation’s Adopt-A-Wildlife-Acre Project Update:  February 2014

National Wildlife Federation’s Adopt-A-Wildlife Acre program continues to see incredible success. To date, the program has succeeded in retiring more than 680,000 acres of vital wildlife habitat, securing safe areas for wildlife to roam. Most recently, thanks to successful NWF negotiations in 2013, we eliminated conflict between domestic and wild bighorn sheep by retiring grazing privileges on 12,000 acres of Montana’s Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. This retirement will prevent domestic sheep from spreading fatal disease to two herds of bighorn sheep.

Thank you for your help in retiring this critical acreage! Retirement of these domestic sheep allotments is also important for enhancing trout habitat and rebuilding a wildlife corridor between the Greater Yellowstone and Salmon Selway ecosystems.

Removing domestic sheep allows riparian vegetation to flourish, which improves water quality and cool streams during Montana’s hot summers. The end of sheep grazing and the wildlife conflicts they created also allows large carnivores such as grizzly bears and wolves to move more freely across the mountain ranges between Montana and Idaho.

The efforts of Adopt-A-Wildlife-Acre are on-going to retire more acreage across the region in order to give wildlife the opportunity to roam and thrive in their native habitat. Thank you for making our project a success!

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