West Fork of the Madison
We are excited to report National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has recently completed an agreement with a cattle ranching operation west of Yellowstone National Park protecting grizzly bears on nearly 40,000 acres! We have a fundraising goal of $200,000 to complete this project.
The project area is near the Idaho/ Montana border along the West Fork of the Madison River (known as the West Fork grazing allotment). The West Fork has an extremely high density of grizzly bears and is an essential corridor for expanding grizzly populations to the west of the Park. Unfortunately, over the past decade, this cattle allotment has experienced some of the highest rates of conflict in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, resulting in the removal of bears that have predated on livestock.
The agreement we developed with the rancher is three years in the making and is a novel approach in resolving livestock / grizzly bear conflicts. NWF invested with the new rancher in purchasing the grazing permit from the former operator of the allotment. This allowed NWF to develop a legal agreement with the new rancher in how they would graze livestock on the permit. Simply put, the agreement provides the rancher much flexibility in terms of how they graze, but there is zero tolerance for bears being removed from the area as a consequence of their grazing. If depredation occurs on the allotment, it is the livestock that are moved off, not the bears. We believe an economic solution to natural resource conflicts is one of the most effective way to ensure landowners and ranchers are brought along as partners in conservation.
Our hope is this agreement may serve as a model for other conflict grazing areas in the future. While many of our previous agreements resulted in the permanent retirement of grazing on an allotment, we realize the same outcome of reducing large carnivore conflict may be achieved through other means. We also believe that no landscape and no two conflicts are the same and we must be able to work closely with private landowners and ranchers if we want to see long term recovery of species like grizzlies and wolves on the landscape.
Cattle Grazing on the West Fork Allotment
Grizzly Conflicts on the West Fork
Grizzly Bear GPS locations West Fork