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The Wild Bison Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving Utah's herd on the Henry Mountains, one of the last free-roaming wild bison herds of North America, has been established.

According to Dale Whipple, executive director of the organization, "The organization will seek to raise funds directly from the public to purchase the necessary grazing rights to preserve two herds of wild bison in southern Utah and northern Arizona."The buffalo, the largest animal in North America, once numbered over 75,000,000 during the 1830's. Now, free-roaming animals number less than 500 adult animals in two separate herds.

The Arizona herd is located north of the Grand Canyon. The herd once numbered more than 500 head, but has been cut back to just 100 adult animals because of grazing pressure in the area.

The Henry Mountains herd, located north of Lake Powell, now numbers about 400 head but will be cut back to 200 adult animals to keep a long-standing agreement with livestock owners in the area.

The six-year drought in the area has left the bison, the range and the livestock in distress. The solution is to remove some of the animals - buffalo or livestock.

The goal of the foundation is to purchase grazing rights from livestock owners. Whipple stressed that no owners will be displaced against their will by the efforts of the foundation, and that the foundation's goals are to help improve conditions for both livestock and buffalo.

The project will cost about $600,000. Several donations have already been received.

The Wild Bison Foundation has installed a donation-hotline for the public to call - (801) 58-Bison - or send donations to Wild Bison Foundation, P. O. Box 27846, Salt Lake City, Ut 84126.