The 7,200-acre Slip and Slide retirement, located on the Gallatin National Forest immediately north of Yellowstone National Park near Gardiner, Montana, has been a significant part of the Yellowstone bison controversy for more than a decade. The presence of domestic livestock immediately adjacent to the park – and the consequent governmental concern that bison might mingle with livestock and transmit the disease brucellosis to cattle – has been the primary reason why bison have not been allowed to roam outside of Yellowstone National Park borders.
In 2008, NWF helped negotiate an agreement with the Church Universal and Triumphant to remove cattle from the 6,000 acre Royal Teton Ranch. It was the only significant cattle operation on the west side of the Yellowstone River. The no-grazing agreement was a major breakthrough in resolving the Yellowstone bison controversy.
Now we are ready to take the next step. The Slip and Slide retirement is the only major cattle operation on the east side of the Yellowstone River immediately north of the Park. The only other livestock in the area immediately north of Gardiner are small herds where fencing can maintain adequate separation between cattle and bison. With this Slip and Slide retirement, federal agencies will have run out of reasons not to allow bison to roam outside the Park in the Gardiner Basin.
While the Slip and Slide area is important for bison, it also provides critical winter habitat for elk and mule deer. It’s also an important area for grizzly bears and wolves. The retirement is completely within the Primary Conservation Area for grizzlies that’s been established by state and federal agencies. It has a resident wolf pack, as well. The presence of these large predators has made it challenging to maintain a profitable livestock operation.