Lolo bison ranch picks up humane certified status - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Lolo bison ranch picks up humane certified status

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LOLO - It's been a long time dream come true for bison rancher Troy Wester.

"I've always had it in the back of my mind that I liked them, and if I could raise something it would be bison. I built railroad cars for twelve years, so I just cashed that in and just went with my gut," Wester said.

His gut lead him to Western Montana where he purchased seven bison. Along the way, Wester met fellow bison and land owner, Chris Mack. Wester moved his herd onto Mack's land along 93 south of Missoula, and Bitterroot Bison was born. Wester now maintains 95 cows and 8 bulls, and the land that the bison live on.

Wester says that because they only sell locally, much of the bison meat and products you find in the area, comes from their ranch.

"We really love our animals," Wester said. "We take the utmost best care of them and I harvest every one of them out there in the field. We don't grain feed them, we don't feed lot them, we just try to do it as natural and as good for the animal and us as possible."

After doing some research, Wester and Mack learned that, to their knowledge, there are no humane certified ranches in existence…anywhere. Knowing that they were handling bison in the most natural way possible from birth until death, Wester reached out to the Humane Farm Animal Care non-profit Organization.

"We had to show her our fields, we had to show her our corral system…how we handle our animals, how we kill our animals, what we feed them, where they are drinking water, the daily chores that I do for them."

In the end, the ranch passed all of the qualifications necessary to become a Humane Certified Ranch fulfilling another goal for a man who moved to Montana from South Dakota 15 years ago without bison, but with a gut feeling.
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