Yellowstone-Bison Deal Web

Bison deal opens land access

Officials announced a deal Thursday to let a small number of bison migrate through a private ranch bordering Yellowstone National Park, sparing the animals from slaughter under a disease control program that has claimed more than 3,000 bison since 2000.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer and park Superintendent Suzanne Lewis said the Royal Teton Ranch’s owner, the Church Universal and Triumphant, agreed to sell grazing rights under a 30-year lease that would initially allow 25 bison to pass through the property to access thousands of acres of federal land outside the park.

Church President Kate Gordon said the deal won’t be signed until the church gets the estimated $2.8 million it is owed. State officials said that would likely be in the fall.

Lewis said Thursday that the National Park Service will contribute $1.5 million to the deal. The state will put up $300,000 and conservation groups pledged to raise the remaining $1 million.

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