The Last Herd

In the contiguous United States, wild bison are no longer free-roaming. With low natural mortality rates, the few wild herds that do exist are annually culled, or fenced in to control their population. Others, such as those is Yellowstone National Park, are rounded up when they leave Park boundaries due to brucellosis a disease that may be transmitted to cattle.

The Henry Mountains bison represent the last genetically pure and brucellosis-free herd that roams over a large area –over 385,000 acres without fences, culling, or roundups.

Despite all this space, Henry Mountains Bison are caught within a complex web of public lands, grass, ranching, and government agencies. The Last Herd, an independent conservation film, documents this delicate balance and provides an example of how free-roaming bison and private interests can co-exist.

 
 
Filming bison on location in the Henry Mountains

Filming bison on location in the Henry Mountains

The Henry Montains

Rugged, remote, and beautiful, Utah’s Henry Mountains border Capital Reef National Park in southern Utah.  The Henry Mountains were the last mountain range to be mapped in the contiguous United States. Skirted with pinyon-juniper woodland, draped in Aspen, and crowned by 11,000-foot alpine meadows, the Henry Mountains beckon as a floating oasis in the desert, a green island in the sky. The Last Herd documents not just the Henry Mountains bison herd, but also the unique landscape in which they roam.


Featuring

The Last Herd features exclusive interviews and insights from the men and women whom have researched, managed, or lived alongside this wild, free-roaming bison herd:

Dr. Dustin Ranglack, Assistant Professor at the University Of Nebraska

Dr. Ranglack researched and studied the Henry Mountains bison herd while completing his P.H.D. at the University of Utah. Ranglack’s numerous published papers on the Henry Mountains bison provide crucial information into this herd’s genetic diversity, foraging patterns, and other topics. This research still influences how the Henry Mountains bison herd is managed today.

Bill Bates, Wildlife Section Chief, Utah State Division of Wildlife Resources

Mr. Bates and his team of State wildlife biologists and professional wildlife managers oversee the Henry Mountains bison herd, implement policy to maintain the herd’s genetic diversity, and address bison impacts to private property.

Sue Fivecoat, Henry Mountains Field Station Manager, U.S. Bureau of Land Management

Ms. Fivecoat and her team of Federal range specialists, land managers, and biologists manage the majority of the Henry Mountains bison’s range. The BLM also administers numerous grazing allotments on the Henry Mountains issued to private ranchers.

Gary Hallows, Rancher, Sandy and King Ranch

Mr. Hallows, a sixth generation Henry Mountains cattle rancher, manages the Sandy and King Ranch. Free roaming bison can impact long-held grazing allotments and local cattle operations.

Paul Pace, Rancher, Pace Family Ranch

Mr. Pace, a fourth generation Henry Mountains cattle rancher has raised cattle alongside the Henry Mountains bison herd his entire life. Free roaming bison can impact long-held grazing allotments and local cattle operations.

Joseph Venuti, Sportsman, Henry Mountains Bison Foundation

Mr Venuti’s organization, and other sportsman groups, have become proficient allies of the Henry Mountains bison herd.  These groups provide political support as well has habitat improvement projects for the Henry Mountains bison herd.

Dr. Dustin Ranglack, interviewed on location in the Henry Mountains

Dr. Dustin Ranglack, interviewed on location in the Henry Mountains


From left to right: Joe, Ryan, and Kyle departing for the Henry Mountains and over two weeks of backcountry filming.

From left to right: Joe, Ryan, and Kyle departing for the Henry Mountains and over two weeks of backcountry filming.

The Filmakers

The Last Herd is an independent film created, filmed, and produced by three friends:

Joe Flannery, Producer/Director/Writer

Joe is a conservationist, author, filmmaker, and employee of the United States Forest Service. He lives in Truckee, CA.

Ryan Fitzhenry, Executive Producer/Cinematographer/Editor/Motion Graphic Artist

Ryan is a freelance cinematographer, editor, and motion graphic artist. He lives in Squaw Valley, CA.

Kyle Lancaster, Executive Producer/Cinematographer/Editor

Kyle Lancaster is a freelance cinematographer, editor, and drone pilot. He lives in Santa Cruz, CA.

Dillon Beckwith, Original Score/Sound Effects & Engineering/Assistant Editor

Dillon Beckwith is a freelance cinematographer, editor, and sound engineer. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.