Range Creek Wandering Bison Causing Concerns

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By Julie Johansen

The Division of Wildlife Resources recently presented a document to the Emery County Public Lands Council outlining the concerns regarding bison emigration from Ute Reservation Lands across the Green River to public and private lands on the Nine Mile Unit. Land owners and federal land grazing permittees have voiced concerns over the forage lost as well as the potential for disease transmission between bison and cattle. The bison remain on tribal lands for about eight months and the Tribal Council has authority over them while on their lands. The bison are then migrating across the Green River into very remote areas with very limited access into Desolation Canyon and the Range Creek area.

The Ute Tribe has an increased awareness and are taking new actions. Testing for brucellosis and tuberculosis continues. They have gathered and sold to slaughter many head as well as increased the number of permits for hunting and increased improvement projects on their habitat to keep the bison on the tribal lands. A large fence is also being considered crossing Chandler Canyon.

The DWR is willing to partner with others to open the Turtle Canyon Road to improve hunter access into the Range Creek area. Their objection is to have no bison in the Range Creek area.

They plan to install GPS transmitters in to five to 10 head of bison to help track and remove the animals. They will notify the Ute Tribe when bison are detected in the Nine Mile area so that they can be removed.

The University of Utah, the private land owners in the area, has agreed to allow bison hunters to access the Range Creek property and to extend the 2017 visitation season of the property to Dec. 15 to increase bison harvest. They will also help with the Turtle Canyon access road.