Question: The Reserve is partnering with ranchers in the project area to sell beef through the Wild Sky program. Does that mean you've changed the goal to build a wildlife reserve?
Answer: Wild Sky exists to strengthen the Reserve by softening the boundaries around the eventual park. We're always looking to the future while learning from both the past and present. One thing we see happening around other large-scale conservation projects is a conflict with hard borders. Animals travel outside a park's boundaries and run into trouble.
Take the Gardiner, Montana entrance to Yellowstone, for example, where bison and other animals wander out of the park and meet their demise. We realize that in order for the project to be successful and for animal populations to rebound that we need to soften the borders. We do this by giving a financial incentive to ranchers who live and work around the project area to coexist with wildlife once again. When they incorporate wildlife-friendly ranching practices that more closely align with the Reserve's management, wildlife has a better chance of survival.