Demand for bison meat spurs ranchers

Dec. 30, 2011 at 2:58 PM
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DENVER, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- A growing consumer demand for bison meat has U.S. ranchers in the West scrambling to rebuild their thinned herds after years of decline.

Demand is outstripping supply, driving prices up and pushing the bison industry to catch up, The Denver Post reported Friday.

"Five years ago, I spent 90 percent of my time trying to get people to eat bison," Dave Carter, executive director of the National Bison Association, said.

"Now, I spend 90 percent of my time getting people to raise bison."

The industry surged in the 1990s when it appeared that meat from bison -- also known as buffalo -- would be a popular consumer choice. But interest was slow to develop, prices crashed, and many ranchers fled the industry.

But now bison meat finally has reached its anticipated popularity, Carter said.

"The message we've put out has really resonated," he said. "It's a lean and healthy food, and it tastes great. People have taken that first taste, and now they're looking for more."

Colorado ranks fourth in the nation in the number of bison behind South Dakota, Nebraska and North Dakota, the Post reported.

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