Cooperatove Conservation Project

Henry Mountain Bison Herd

Balancing Livestock and Wildlife

Location: South-Central/South-West Region: Utah

Project Summary: Sportsmen and ranchers negotiate win-win solutions to maintain livestock grazing and ensure quality bison hunts in the Utah Henry Mountains.
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Introduced to the Henry Mountains in 1941, this bison herd is one of the few genetically pure herds left in the world.
Resource Challenge

The Henry Mountains of central Utah are the key feature on two million acres of remote land managed by the USDI Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Mt Ellen is the tallest of the Henry’s five peaks at 11,600 feet. Two major grazing allotments are located in the high elevation summer range of the Henry Mountains. Livestock operators share winter grazing on adjacent ranges that are exclusively winter use allotments.

Bison were introduced into the area in the mid-1940s. Recently, the bison herd has increased to more than 400 head, and is now competing with livestock for summer range forage. This has created the potential for con. ict between cattle ranchers on one hand and sportsmen on the other who consider the Henry Mountains prime bison hunting country. In recent years, each bison permit that has been issued by the State of Utah has had 100 applicants.  

Examples of Key Partners

USDI Bureau of land Management (BLM), BLM grazing permittees, Utah Department of Natural Resources, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Utah Sportsmen for Habitat, and other interested parties.

Results and Accomplishments

Sportsmen for Habitat, a Utah-based conservation group, discovered a win-win solution to the emerging conflict between stockmen and sportsmen. It is compensating the BLM permittees—in the amount of $400,000—for the value of forage lost to Bison and the reduction in authorized stocking that has resulted.

Sportsmen for Habitat is also providing funding to the permittee of one allotment to assist the rancher in changing his management to benefit both cattle and bison. Most recently, Sportsmen for Habitat purchased the ranch of a permittee who chose to retire from the livestock business. By so doing, the group was able to retire the grazing permit linked to the ranch. The outcome of these voluntary negotiations between ranchers and sportsmen has been to ensure the long-term sustainability of livestock ranching, to maintain grazing levels on rangelands at ecologically sound levels, to protect wildlife habitat, and to maintain quality bison hunting opportunities.


The Sportsmen For Habitat, a private conservation group, compensates public land ranchers for forage used by bison.

Project Contact
Don Peay

Henry Mountain Sportsmen for Habitat



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