FWP Willing to Allow Private Ownership of Yellowston Bison

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN – Officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks say they are now willing to allow some offspring of a brucellosis-free herd of bison in Corwin Springs to fall into private ownership.

The animals were captured as they migrated out of Yellowstone National Park in the winter of 2005 and 2006 and were tested for brucellosis, a disease that causes animals to miscarry. Those that tested negative were kept in a quarantine facility and bred.

Biologists hope to use the animals and future herds to return bison to the western landscape.

Media mogul Ted Turner has asked FWP if he can house a herd of quarantined bison on a portion of his 113,000-acre Flying D Ranch south of Bozeman, but only if he is allowed to keep most of the herd’s offspring.

Originally, the state agency said it would manage the herd’s offspring as wildlife. But FWP spokesman Ron Aasheim said Wednesday that Turner’s proposal struck managers as a good idea.

“We hadn’t considered that, and thought it made some sense to consider that as an option,” he said. “We thought, maybe, we’d get some additional interest.”

Last year, FWP chose the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming to take the herd, but the tribal government backed out of the deal because of fears the bison could spread brucellosis to domestic cattle herds.

Turner, the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in north-central Montana and the Brookfield Zoo in Brookfield, Ill., among others, bid this summer on taking the bison.

The deadline for proposals under the revised request is Nov. 2.

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