Ray Grass, Deseret Morning News
Forty-five bison will be moved from the Henry Mountains and reintroduced to native range on public land in the Book Cliffs.

In November 2007, the Utah Wildlife Board approved a plan that includes a transplant of 45 bison into Utah's Book Cliffs.

The management plan outlines in detail how the animals will be moved from their current range on the Henry Mountains and reintroduced to their native range on public land in the Book Cliffs.

The first phase of the bison transplant was scheduled to occur in January but was delayed. Weather conditions and snow depths interfered with access to potential release areas, and the Division of Wildlife Resources wanted a more comprehensive plan for disease testing. The Uintah County Commission also requested a delay to the transplant project.

Although two years were spent on the actual management plan, many people and groups worked together for decades to make the transplant possible.

Sportsmen, ranchers, the DWR, the Bureau of Land Management, the Nature Conservancy and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation all united to improve and secure wildlife habitat in the region.

Ranches were purchased from willing sellers, grazing was leased, livestock distribution was enhanced and thousands of dollars of range improvements were completed, with more planned for the future.

The cooperative organizations also reached agreements to ensure that the presence of bison would not restrict energy development in the region.

Bison are native to the Uinta Basin, including the Book Cliffs.

Accounts from early explorers and trappers place them on both the north and south slopes of the Uinta Mountains and in Browns Park. There are images of bison in American Indian rock art throughout the Book Cliffs, and many bison skulls have been unearthed in the region.

The DWR expects to begin the bison transplant within the coming year, as soon as disease protocols have been refined and transplant conditions are favorable.

The DWR does not anticipate bison will wander far from release sites or leave the Book Cliffs. Any bison that move to areas outside the bison management plan will be removed by herding, transplanting or hunting.

To review the Northern Book Cliffs Bison Management Plan, visit the DWR's Web site at www.wildlife.utah.gov/hunting.