31 Utah bison are headed for the Book Cliffs

Utah’s Henry Mountains herd — the source — originally came from Yellowstone Park-

31 Utah bison headed for the Book Cliffs. Associated Press. Salt Lake Tribune.

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“Buffaloed” provided a better (a video) link.  http://www.ksl.com/index.php?nid=148&sid=5310294. KSL Television. Thanks!

Photo of Blue Castle Canyon in the Book Cliffs (one of hundreds such canyons in this vast area). I am amazed that Yellowstone bison have been able to thrive in the rugged Henry Mountains, and now this similar country of the Book Cliffs.

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Another photo of the Book Cliffs (with Green River)







  1. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Given the overall dismal situation with bison conservation in this country, this is good news. As far as we know, unlike the vast majority of bison in this country, the Henry Mountains bison population is free from contamination with cattle genes, so these are the bison we want to allow to expand their range. Unfortunately, the referenced SLT story doesn’t provide many details.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thanks Buffaloed. I saw in the SLT comments that the TV story was better than the AP story I linked to. I put your link up in the post just now.

  3. Ryan Avatar

    You can thank your friends at SFW in some portion for this work to reintroduce the bison to the Books. (See were not all evil) Just as you can thank FNAWS for the many sheep reintroductions across the nation, or DU and Delta waterfowl for preserving wetlands.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    In response to Ryan,

    Well thanks, to all those responsible.

    Personally, I think FNAWS is a fine organization. Delta Waterfowl is local, and I don’t know about it, but it sounds OK. SFW is a group we have had problems with, but they sometimes are on the right side.

  5. Ryan Avatar


    No groups perfect. They are pro predator control, but have also done good habitat work and facilitated land excahnges ETC. They just fall on the otherside of wolf/coyote issue as this group. Delta waterfowl is nationwide, but the majority of there focus is on the central flyway.

  6. Bob Ostler Avatar
    Bob Ostler

    The population currently in the Book Cliffs is off the Ute reservation and is a mixture of bison and cattle genes. The group from the Henry Mountains will soon be a mixture also. This is not about restoring native bison, just providing a group of beefalo to be hunted. Sort of like the Teton population

  7. Buffaloed Avatar

    Bob, that’s not good. I was hoping that this would be a new population without a previous population that had cattle genes. I guess this isn’t as good as it appears.

  8. jdubya Avatar

    Bob, when this hit the press last week I was thinking it was deja vu all over again. There are actually two re-introductions, right? The first occurred earlier this year with 14 or so from the Ute lands (these are the mixed population) with the additional 30 or so currently moving from Henry’s to Antelope and then on the Books? I was on the RAC when SFW/DWR were promoting increasing the herd size on Henry’s for more tags (and I was worrying about how homogeneous the genetics were) but the Books project was obviously still on the drawing board. So mixing the 14 with the thirty may give some hybrid vigor with bison diversity, but dilutes the bison with cattle. What a catch 22……

  9. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    I’ve been so focused on the Yellowstone population that I I was not aware of the possibility of commingling with the Ute population. Well, it appears it’s a done deal.


  10. JB Avatar

    “No groups perfect. They are pro predator control, but have also done good habitat work and facilitated land excahnges ETC.”

    Ha! I’ve sat through too many meetings with Don Peay to let this fly; it is far more appropriate to say that SFW is pro predator eradication. They (and Don Peay personally) made every effort in Utah to try and ensure wolves never become established in the state. SFW is no friend of wildlife–at least they’re no friend of any wildlife that can’t be killed, stuffed, and hung on the wall.

  11. jdubya Avatar

    JB, Among my many Don Peay sound bites (and there are many: I was also on the RAC when we “debated” the wolf management plan), my favorite was when he was testifying in front of a committee to allow hunting in the state park on Antelope Island. As he described it (and here I paraphrase) “the air pollution in the Salt Lake Valley would double from all of the private jets flying in to take part in the hunt”.

    Predator management in Utah means dead predators.

  12. jdubya Avatar

    Robert, As I understood it the Henry’s population was totally derived from Yellowstone animals. Is that not true? How tight was the bottleneck in the Yellowstone herd?

  13. dbaileyhill Avatar

    I haven’t had a chance to read the article in the Nature Conservancy’s magazine titled “The Last Bison”.
    The story is on their web-site.

  14. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    “Buffalorunner” who comments here at times is the professional expert on bison genetics but let’s put it this way; of the 10 haplotypes found in North American bison, Yellowstone has but two, and the continuing slaughters in Yellowstone under the IMBP are wrecking havoc with what genetic diversity still exists. For example, bison with crooked horns, a sign of inbreeding, have been seen.

    The bottlenecks created by the 19th century extinciton slaughters and 20th-21st century mismanagement slaughters are severe. That’s one reason why many of us support an ESA listing for Yellowstone bison and their migration to critical habitat that would be designated under an ESA listing.

    My understanding is that the Henry’s population derived totally from Yellowstone’s genetically intact wild population. One reason to prefer the restoration of genetically intact wild bison at the landscape scale is that they still possess wild genes and so are more adaptable to specific environmental conditions than hybrids. Over time, the hope is that local adaptations would increase genetic diversity.

    I wonder if there’s a way to create absolute separation between the Book Cliffs bison and the Ute Reservation bison. This project seems not to have been well thought through.


  15. Ryan Avatar


    If you sit in a Wolf meeting, then most likely your going to hear anti predator rhetorhic. But in conjunction with FNAWS they have taken 2 major sheep allotment out of the loop and reintroduced Wild sheep. There have been several cattle allotments taken out by SFW too.

  16. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think the Utah Division of Wildlife didn’t say where in the big area they released the bison to avoid poachers finding them easily.

  17. JB Avatar

    That’s great, Ryan; truly. But I can’t support an organization whose sole purpose is to maximize harvestable game to the detriment of all other wildlife. If SFW got their way, the wild places in the West would essentially be turned into game farms without fences. They can’t seem to understand that predators are the part of the ecosystem that makes “wild” landscapes WILD. Take away the wolves, bears, and cougars and the West begins to feel like Indiana, albeit with mountains.


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Ralph Maughan