Opinion: Reintroduce wild bison to native habitat in Montana

"Bison — once one of North America's most plentiful and, arguably, most valuable animals — escaped extinction, but have survived almost exclusively in captivity. Slaughtered by the millions in the 19th century, bison today are raised by ranchers as livestock or corralled as a sort of shaggy exhibit behind high, solid fences as at the National Bison Range in Moiese. No bison can be found in their native prairie habitat anywhere in the United States.

That's about to change. Montana has begun the process of restoring at least a modest herd of truly wild bison. The state Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks has begun holding a series of meetings statewide as the first step in developing an environmental-impact statement and comprehensive plan for managing wild bison.

As this process gets under way, the National Wildlife Federation wants ranchers to know we hear and understand their concerns, and we pledge to work hard to resolve those concerns. We must make sure that bison restored to the wild present no threat of disease and that when they cross onto private lands they don't create any more problems than other wildlife. We would like to work closely with landowners to effectively resolve potential problems."

Get the Story:
Tom France: We should bring back bison as wildlife in Montana (The Great Falls Tribune 5/17)

Related Stories:
Judge blocks transfers of Yellowstone bison to Montana tribes (5/10)
Non-Indian ranchers unhappy with transfer of bison to tribes (04/27)
Bison from Yellowstone gives birth at Fort Peck Reservation (4/23)
Editorial: Move of Yellowstone bison to tribes a good thing (4/10)
Opinion: Tribes looking to reclaim heritage with bison herds (4/6)
Group protests governor's visit to Fort Peck Tribe bison site (4/3)
Editorial: Allow transfer of bison to Montana reservations (3/28)
Judge's ruling puts hold on move of bison from Yellowstone (3/22)
Fort Peck Tribes accept transfer of bison from Yellowstone (3/21)

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