Biodiversity: Montana eyes bison restoration

Draft study open for public comment

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A bison in the grasslands of Badlands National Park.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife managers in Montana are exploring options for restoring bison to parts of the state where they haven’t roamed in more than 100 years.

Bison were nearly eliminated from their historic range more than a century ago. By the late 1890s, only 1,000 bison remained in North America, and most of these animals were held on private ranches where they were interbred with cattle. By 1902, only 25 bison remained in the wild in the U.S., seeking refuge deep within Yellowstone National Park. Today, this Yellowstone herd numbers around 4,500 animals. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Another win for bison restoration

Montana court says bison are not livestock

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A Yellowstone bison. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A Montana district court judge this month rejected yet another attempt by ranchers to block the restoration of bison in the northern plains. The ranchers sought to have wild bison classified as livestock rather than wildlife, but Montana District Judge John McKeon ruled last week that wild bison are wildlife under state law — regardless of their confinement in quarantine.

A legal classification as livestock would have transferred jurisdiction over quarantined bison from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to the Montana Department of Livestock—a move that threatened to impede any future efforts to restore native bison as a wildlife species in appropriate portions of their historic habitat.

“This ruling rightly discredits what amounted to a stealth attack on future efforts to restore wild bison in Montana,” said Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, who represented Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Federation in opposing Citizens for Balanced Use’s argument. “Wild bison are classified as wildlife under Montana law. Now it is time to restore wild bison as wildlife on the Montana landscape.” Continue reading

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