Following are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Wild Sky and American Prairie Reserve. If you have additional questions please do not hesitate to email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Wild Sky?
Wild Sky sells all natural, grass-fed beef to consumers who feel good knowing that profits are returning to the largest conservation project in the lower 48. Specifically, profit from Wild Sky enables the Reserve to soften boundaries around the project area by incentivizing ranchers to live with wildlife.
What is Wild Sky's connection with American Prairie Reserve?
Wild Sky is a brand that is managed under Montana Prairie Holdings, a for-profit company created and owned by the nonprofit American Prairie Reserve.
Why work with Ranchers?
Even when finished, the Reserve will be surrounded by a mosaic of public and private lands with 500,000 head of cattle. Because our restoration goals include building a fully functional and resilient ecosystem with species that include predators, we seek ways to expand the effect of our protected areas into these lands such that the boundaries between them are blended and indistinguishable to wildlife. Otherwise, those areas become sinks for the wildlife source created by American Prairie Reserve, effectively creating an island of conservation that has lost key corridors. A blended edge allows the Reserve to contribute to wildlife population growth on millions of additional acres in the region - a design that supports long-term viability and landscape connectivity.
First, the beef business fits well with Montana's ranching culture - something conservationists often overlook. Second, hundreds of cattle ranchers surround American Prairie Reserve. And third, grass-fed beef is quickly becoming more than a niche product.
Where does Wild Sky beef come from?
Our business objective is to offer the best grass-fed, grass-finished products in the market and use the profits to support wildlife-friendly ranching on Wild Sky Ranches. Wild Sky beef is sourced from ranches around the United States. Source ranches are audited by third party verification companies to ensure cattle are fed a grass diet, never ever given antibiotics or hormones, are humanely treated, and raised in an open pasture.
Cattle are grass-fed and finished on a proprietary grass-foliage mix that allows the cattle to produce marbling and reach the ideal weight and age for harvest. Cattle are then processed at USDA-approved facilities in Omaha. From there, Wild Sky product is shipped to distributors and then retail outlets across the United States. Wild Sky's fresh beef products receive a top-quality USDA grading of "Choice" or higher and our further-processed products including, jerky, snack sticks, hot dogs and hamburger patties are produced by specialty processors hand picked by our Wild Sky team.
What do you mean by "wildlife-friendly practices?"
Wild Sky's protocols cover a number of areas relating to wildlife conservation -- from the preservation of native prairie, to the protection and prairie dogs, to the installation of wildlife-friendly fencing. See our Pocket Guide for further details.
What makes Wild Sky beef unique?
Wild Sky is the only U.S. beef brand with the extra attribute of "supporting wildlife-friendly ranching." Wild Sky Ranches serve as stepping stones for the movement of wildlife through dispersal corridors between three of the most iconic biodiversity hotspots in the continental United States: the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (extending from Glacier National Park south along the Rocky Mountain Front); the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem; and the American Prairie Reserve Ecosystem. These areas form Wild Passage USA.
What about human-wildlife conflict?
The National Park system provides a century of inspiration and lessons for a modern day effort like American Prairie Reserve. In conversations with officials from Yellowstone, Grand Teton, and Grand Canyon and others, it's clear that a landscape-scale approach is a crucial first step to building a diverse and self-sustaining park. But in setting aside special areas for wildlife and recreation, our national parks have also learned the hard way that it's just as important to anticipate human-wildlife conflict at the edges. For that reason, American Prairie Reserve is already incentivizing our neighbors through Wild Sky and will continue to seek out innovative ways to soften our boundaries to benefit both wildlife and people as we build the nation's next, best park.
Why are you not yet buying cattle directly from Wild Sky ranchers?
Wild Sky does not currently source cattle from Wild Sky Ranches for a few reasons. First, it is not economically feasible for our partners to source cattle from small and dispersed operations where they will have to be moved a great distance as there is not a large scale processing plant in Montana. Our focus is to build and operate a sustainable business that generates profit to support existing ranches and recruit new wildlife-friendly ranches.
Second, Montana winters are long and harsh, which means most Wild Sky Ranches are "cow/calf" operations. This type of ranching serves as the foundation sector of the beef industry where calves are born and raised up to weaning age. After calves are about seven months old, they are sold in the fall. Of course, Wild Sky offers a fresh product 365 days a year - and to do so requires a consistent supply of product from multiple sources. This does not mean we will never source cattle from Wild Sky Ranchers. In fact, our program has grown to the point that some of our partners are meeting with Wild Sky ranchers to see if their calves can be incorporated into our supply. Once we have enough ranches involved in our program and practicing all natural grass-fed methods, we hope to see Wild Sky Ranch cattle move into our supply!
For frequently asked questions on American Prairie Reserve click here.