The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Property and Environment Research Center (PERC) and other partners created a new tool to help ranchers in Montana’s Paradise Valley whose land serves as important habitat for elk. The Paradise Valley Brucellosis Compensation Fund is a first-of-its-kind effort to help ease the financial burden ranchers may face if their cattle contract brucellosis from elk in exchange for providing critical habitat for migrating elk.
Thousands of elk within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem migrate into Paradise Valley each year in search of vital forage during the winter months. However, entering livestock feeding grounds heightens the possibility of brucellosis which can be extremely costly. Until now, private landowners shouldered the full cost of brucellosis risk.
“Quality habitat is essential to ensuring the future of elk and other wildlife,” said RMEF President and CEO Kyle Weaver. “Ranchers play a critical role in this effort. We’re proud to work with them and PERC on an innovative solution to continue to carry out this vital conservation work.”
At a time of rapid regional growth and fragmentation because of development, supporting large, working cattle ranches by minimizing the impact of brucellosis is an urgent priority for habitat conservation. Many conservationists, hunters, and community members want to protect the region’s vibrant elk herds; the new fund supplies a creative market solution for them to support elk migrations and open space.
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(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)