Posted: Jul 26, 2012 7:30 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
Updated: Jul 26, 2012 7:30 AM
The State of Montana is asking for public input on a plan which could allow bison to freely roam outside Yellowstone National Park.
It's no secret that bison roam freely in Yellowstone and have been known to wander out of the Park and onto state and private land. So a collaborative group of state and federal agencies are trying to figure out what to do with them.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) spokesman Ron Aasheim says, "We just want to know, is there a place in Montana adjoining the Park where we could tolerate bison year round?"
FWP and the Montana Department of Livestock are proposing to allow free roaming bison in four sections of the Gallatin National Forest: the Hebgen Basin, the Cabin Creek Recreation Area, Monument Mountain and the Upper Gallatin River corridor.
Previous federal rules prohibited bison from freely roaming the area because they could potentially spread brucellosis to neighboring cattle ranches. Now the USDA has changed the rules and the state has some flexibility in how it can potentially manage the bison.
Governor Brian Schweitzer (D -Montana) says 99% of the cattle industry is not at risk of losing it's brucellosis free status because the state is monitoring the cattle in the area of Yellowstone Park in a more significant way.
"If we find some of those animals are with brucellosis, and we do expect to find them, we will destroy those animals and test the rest of the herd and move forward," Schweitzer says.
Even with these changes, Belgrade Rancher Tom Milesnick is concerned.
"The biggest issue right now is the disease, with us being so close to Yellowstone Park. Then the next issue is the expansion of the area that the bison roam," Milesnick says.
FWP reports this proposal is not linked to any other plans to move bison onto public lands.
Schweitzer says because of bison reproduce slowly it'll be generations before bison could ever freely roam Montana
You can submit your comments on this proposal by clicking here, or attend a public meeting in West Yellowstone on August 20, from 6-8 pm at the Holiday Inn, or a meeting in Gardiner on August 21, from 6-8 pm at the Gardiner High School Theatre.
Topics: BISON MONTANA YELLOWSTONE PARK