Review of Proposed Bison Donation
June 5, 2012 City Council Meeting
On June 5, City Council voted to remove Open Space & Mountain Parks lands north and south of US Highway 36 from further consideration as a location of a bison ranching operation as part of the offer of the donation of bison to the City of Boulder and that staff will remain open to other locations. (The motion carried 7:1 with Council Member Morzel opposed and Council Member Cowles absent).
Council Meeting Agenda 32.64 KB
May 23, 2012 Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) Meeting
[Motion: Feinberg, Second Isaacson. Motion carried unanimously (5-0); Dunbar, Feinberg, Hartough, Isaacson, and Putnum in favor].
The Open Space Board of Trustees also voted to recommend to City Council that the Open Space and Mountain Parks staff not continue to consider other Open Space and Mountain Parks locations and cost efficiencies; however, if the community at large identifies other opportunities and funding sources, Open Space and Mountain Parks would certainly be ready to evaluate those.
[Motion: Feinberg, Second Hartogh. Motion carried unanimously (5-0); Dunbar, Feinberg, Hartough, Isaacson, and Putnum in favor].
April 11, 2012 Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) Meeting
March 29, 2012 Open House
In October 2011, a private party offered a donation of 20 bison to the City of Boulder. In December 2011, the Boulder City Council directed staff to prepare an analysis of the donation proposal. Council also directed staff to ensure that there would be no chance that the donated Bison were carrying Brucellosis, a livestock disease known to occur in Bison in the Yellowstone area.
Historically, up to 30 million bison once roamed across most of North America (map). In Colorado, bison herds ranged across the prairie grasslands in the eastern half of the state, into the intermountain valleys and parks (like Estes Park, South Park and the San Luis Valley), and through woodlands and shrublands. Bison were known to visit the alpine tundra.
In the years between 1830 and 1880, the “nearly infinite” bison herds were nearly exterminated. European settlers hunted bison for their skins and meat and sometimes large animals were shot for “sport." Bison herds were also killed off as a military tactic in the wars against the native people of the Great Plains.
In 1893, efforts began to protect the approximately 1,000 bison that survived the late 19th century slaughter. The efforts of a few diligent conservationists avoided the bison’s extinction.
Today, there are an estimated half million bison in North American. About 20,000 animals are managed in conservation herds in parks, preserves, other public lands, and on private lands. Turner Enterprises has several herds serving both conservation goals and providing a commercial product. The American Prairie Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund have also developed conservation herds. The largest free-ranging conservation herd of plains bison (about 4,000 animals) occurs in Yellowstone National Park. Much smaller semi-free ranging populations occupy the National Bison Range (MT), and Wind Cave (SD), Badlands (SD) and Great Sand Dunes (CO) National Parks and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (CO). No bison will be grazing in national wildlife refuge nearest to Boulder, as the Rocky Flats refuges’ management plan specifically prohibits the introduction of bison .
Over 400,000 bison are found in commercial herds—and most of these are not pure bison. They have been cross-bred with cattle and are raised as livestock on ranches. Some ranches on the eastern plains and Great Sand Dunes National Park in the San Luis Valley plains have relatively large herds managed on sizeable acreages—but even these herds are carefully managed and confined to areas much smaller than natural conditions. There are also many smaller managed commercial/agricultural bison herds throughout Colorado including the herd maintained by Denver Mountain Parks along Interstate 70 near Genesee.
In Colorado, Bison are considered domestic animals rather than wildlife. They are regulated by the Department of Agriculture rather than the Department of Natural Resources (Division of Parks and Wildlife).
Current Conservation Status
Bison are not listed as either threatened or endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. NatureServe (previous Natural Heritage Program) considers the plains bison to be globally “apparently secure," noting that the bison now “occur as wild, free-ranging populations in only small fragments of the once vast range in North America, but the species is secure globally due to the many managed populations on public and private lands.”
The Fish and Wildlife Service is involved in on-going bison conservation efforts in the United States through their implementation the Joint Bison Management Plan (dealing primarily with the Yellowstone area) and the Department of Interior’s Bison Conservation Initiative (affecting Colorado bison management at Great Sand Dunes National Park and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge).
The bison is not listed by the State of Colorado as a threatened or endangered species and is not included in Colorado’s Conservation Plan for Grassland Species.
Because of the donor’s and City Council’s interest in making bison visible from the main approach to the City of Boulder, staff has focused on the analysis of Open Space and Mountain Parks grasslands flanking the Boulder-Denver Turnpike. Two options, one north and one south of US36 are being analyzed.
Click the map at right for a larger image.
Factors under Consideration
The introduction of bison onto OSMP will require new facilities, and will result in changes to long-standing grassland management practices affecting both ecological and agricultural resources. Because bison are incompatible with visitor use, staff selected areas with no designated trails and little visitor use.
The following factors are being considered as part of staff’s analysis. Staff is examining two scenarios:
Last Updated on Friday, 10 May 2013 13:40