by Karl Puckett, Great Falls Tribune
The American Prairie Reserve south of Malta is proposing to increase the size of its pasture for genetically pure bison to accommodate the expanding herd.
Ten years ago, APR returned 16 bison to the prairie.
This spring, 600 animals will be roaming the reserve, run by a not-for-profit and created to preserve some of the Great Plains’ remaining unbroken prairie.
Currently, APR owns and/or leases more than 305,000 acres of deeded and public land.
Bison pasture on about 30,000 acres.
Last summer, APR purchased the Holzey family ranch in south Phillips County. A public, 13,075-acre public grazing allotment owned by the Bureau of Land Management, called Flat Creek, was tied to that purchase and is now leased by APR.
Cattle previously had grazed the land.
APR has applied to change the class of livestock so bison can graze on the Flat Creek Allotment.
Kyran Kunkel, lead scientist for APR, said the bison herd is currently 450, but it’s expected to grow to around 600 this spring after calving, prompting the purchase of additional land and the accompanying public grazing lease.
“We’re going to need more and more space,” Kunkel said.
The goal is to eventually have thousands of bison on tens of thousands of acres, he said.
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Source: Great Falls Tribune