When you ask Managing Director Pete Geddes about the decision to start a wildlife-friendly beef program, it boils down to two things. "People love great tasting beef," he starts. "And with that, we can build a constituency for conservation."
Wild Sky Beef officially launched in Fall 2013 as a separate business owned by American Prairie Reserve. The program operates on both ends of the food supply chain. First, using established sources for natural, grass fed beef, Wild Sky sells high-quality meat to grocery stores and chefs across the country.
Back in Montana, Wild Sky uses the profits to fund efforts to build the Reserve and to provide an economic incentive for nearby ranchers to implement wildlife-friendly practices.
Ranchers can choose from a menu of practices, such as protecting prairie dogs, and premiums increase as more of the menu items are put into effect.
Eventually, Wild Sky will be able to purchase and sell beef from the Reserve region as interested ranchers transition their herds to Wild Sky Beef qualities, like being hormone and antibiotic free.
In the eyes of American Prairie Reserve President Sean Gerrity, Wild Sky means more than just revenue. "When people think about what we're doing out here they often think of bison, not beef. But the Reserve shares many of the same conservation interests as our neighbors, and something unifying like wildlife-friendly beef makes sense for all of us."