Agreement to Let Yellowstone Bison Roam in Montana

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – An agreement among state, federal and tribal officials expected to be adopted this week would let Yellowstone National Park bison roam more freely across tens of thousands of acres in southern Montana.

The proposal would allow migrating bison in the area known as Gardiner Basin. Officials hope it will bring some relief to the state’s bison management dilemma, which has dragged on for two decades.

State veterinarian Marty Zaluski said Tuesday that increased bison hunting will be allowed in the basin. Zaluski says up to 450 bison annually need to be removed from Yellowstone’s herd to avoid periodic slaughters of the animals.

Several state and federal agencies already have signed a document detailing the basin’s new “Bison Conservation Area,” where few cattle remain. Final adoption is expected this week.

More than 600 bison have been captured this winter while trying to migrate outside the park in search of food. Many carry brucellosis, and officials fear the disease could be transmitted to cattle.

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