Plan Allows Bison to Migrate Outside of Yellowstone

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wants to proceed with its portion of an agreement that would allow 25 bison a year to migrate from Yellowstone National Park north through a ranch in the Paradise Valley to graze on public land.

FWP is just one agency involved in the Interagency Bison Management Plan, which includes the national park, the state Department of Livestock, the Gallatin National Forest and the federal Animal Plant Health Inspection Service.

The 30-year agreement with the Royal Teton Ranch would cost FWP $300,000 as well as the costs of building and maintaining fences, cattle guards and other structures necessary to manage the bison.

An initial payment of $1.87 million would cover the total estimated cost of the grazing agreement followed by 19 years of payments of $76,500. The rest of the amount would be funded by the Park Service and nongovernment partners.

The bison passing through the ranch to Gallatin National Forest land would be tested for brucellosis, a bacterial disease that causes abortions in cattle, bison and elk.

Last winter, 1,600 bison were sent to slaughter after migrating out of Yellowstone National Park. Wildlife officials said the move was meant to curb the spread of brucellosis to livestock.

The latest proposal is outlined in a draft environmental assessment open to public comment until Oct. 31.