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.
Jan 20, 2016

NWF Adopt a Wildlife Acre Update

Bighorn sheep in Idaho
Bighorn sheep in Idaho's Lemhi Mountains

The National Wildlife Federation continues to make great success in eliminating wildlife / livestock conflicts on public lands in the West.  Most notably, last month NWF negotiated a grazing agreement with a domestic sheep producer in central Idaho (Lemhi Mountains) to retire his allotment to protect neighboring bighorn sheep.  

While this allotment retirement was quite small (25 sheep on 5,000 acres) the risk of those domestic sheep passing deadly pneumonia to their wild counterparts was extremely high. By compensating the rancher to retire the allotment, he is able to sell the sheep and afford the costs to convert his entire operation to cattle, which pose no disease risk to area wildlife and are a less likely target for predation.  A win for wildlife and a win for a long-time family ranch.  

This retirement is also significant in that it was the last remaining domestic sheep allotment in the entire Lemhi mountain range- thereby securing a future for one of Idaho's healthiest populations of domestic sheep.  

In addition, several other grazing agreements are in the works, two sheep allotments in Idaho and another five in Wyoming and our first grazing agreement in Colorado--in the Sarvis Creek Wilderness near Steamboat Springs, will likely be completed in the coming weeks.  2016 is shaping up to be a big year for wildlife and wild places and it wouldn't be possible without the continued support of our donors!

Pahsimeroi valley Idaho
Pahsimeroi valley Idaho

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Oct 28, 2015

Adopt-A-Wildlife Acre Project Update: 1 Million Acres for Wildlife

Centennial Mountains of Idaho and Montana
Centennial Mountains of Idaho and Montana

The National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Conflict Resolution Program (Adopt-A-Wildlife Acre) has continued to make excellent progress in reducing livestock / wildlife conflicts in the northern Rockies.  In August, the National Wildlife Federation finalized a grazing agreement on the Limestone Irving / Middle Creek domestic sheep grazing allotments in the Centennial Mountains, straddling the high divide of the Montana / Idaho border, west of Yellowstone National Park totaling 82,000 acres.

Since the Adopt-A-Wildlife Acre program was founded in 2002, the National Wildlife Federation has resolved conflicts on over 1 million acres for wildlife in the west!

This Limestone Irving / Middle Creek retirement, with seven allotments in total, is one of the largest and most important retirements NWF has negotiated on the High Divide, a critical East to West wildlife corridor between Idaho’s Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and Yellowstone National Park. Domestic sheep allotments in the area have faced chronic conflicts with both large carnivores and bighorn sheep.

The domestic sheep allotments retired are adjacent to occupied bighorn sheep habitat in Montana’s Tendoy Mountains. We focused our efforts in this region because the bighorn herd in the Tendoys has dwindled in recent years due to disease transmission that likely occurred from co-mingling between the two species.  Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will be culling the existing herd in the Tendoys this fall and plans to reintroduce clean bighorn sheep to the region in the coming year.  Due to this critical retirement, bighorn sheep will have a fighting chance for a comeback in the Tendoy Mountains and their range and populations will be allowed to expand south to the Lima Peaks area and over the Idaho border.  

Tendoy Mountains - Occupied Bighorn Sheep Habitat
Tendoy Mountains - Occupied Bighorn Sheep Habitat
A bighorn ram courting a ewe in southwest Montana
A bighorn ram courting a ewe in southwest Montana
Jul 31, 2015

NWF Adopt-A-Wildlife Acre Program Update

NWF is solving conflicts for Yellowstone Grizzlies
NWF is solving conflicts for Yellowstone Grizzlies

We believe livestock grazing retirements can be a powerful tool for restructuring where grazing occurs on public lands. Most significantly, we have been able to accomplish noteworthy changes in the Yellowstone ecosystem with minimal controversy.  We believe that’s because we recognize that grazing leases have economic value and pay accordingly.  We think our project provides an important model that could be duplicated for other species.  To date we have done grazing retirements to resolve conflicts involving grizzly bears, wolves, bison and bighorn sheep. 

This past year set a new high-water mark for NWF retirements.   We successfully retired five grazing allotments, providing significant conflict-free habitat for bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, wolves and sage grouse. These retirements will permanently end conflicts between domestic sheep and bighorn sheep (disease transmission occurs that often decimates entire populations) over a significant area of southeastern Idaho. 

We believe grazing retirements could significantly boost conservation efforts for sage grouse and anadromous fish. NWF is actively involved with negotiations involving two grazing allotments in central Idaho where livestock have trampled the redds of endangered chinook salmon. Several of our recent bighorn sheep retirements are equally important for sage grouse. 

The outlook for maintaining this success is positive. The bighorn sheep risk analysis that the Forest Service is undertaking continues to move slowly forward, and NWF’s Adopt-A-Wildlife acre program has proven itself as the primary means of changing existing land use patterns without major controversy. NWF remains in contact with five permittees in Idaho and Wyoming with whom we have a solid outlook for developing grazing retirement agreements in 2016.

Most recently, we followed up our initial Bureau of Land Managment (BLM) retirement with a second one in late spring of 2015: the 59,000-acre Deadman domestic sheep allotment, also in the Upper Snake River area of southern Idaho. The cost was $66,000.  We are also pleased that our recent retirements have been secured for an affordable price. The majority of our retirements have cost less than $3 per acre.The ability to provide substantial conservation at a low cost has allowed NWF to have a significant impact solving livestock / wildlife conflicts on large landscapes in the Rocky Mountain West.

Bighorn sheep are between a rock and a hard place
Bighorn sheep are between a rock and a hard place
The Upper Gros Ventre Retirement N. of Jackson, WY
The Upper Gros Ventre Retirement N. of Jackson, WY
Native plants regenerate quickly without livestock
Native plants regenerate quickly without livestock

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