HELENA — Indian leaders, wildlife advocates and sportsmen's groups are advocating for increased tolerance of bison and are opposing anti-bison bills now making their way through the Montana Legislature.

The groups participated in a demonstration Tuesday at the state Capitol.

Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribal Council member Thomas Christian says they want to help people understand the significance of the buffalo in Indian culture.

So far this legislative session, lawmakers have introduced 10 bills dealing with bison. They range from giving counties the ability to veto bison restoration plans to creating a zero-tolerance policy for free-roaming bison in the state.

Republican Sen. John Brenden of Scobey is the sponsor of the zero-tolerance bill. He says there is no place for free-roaming bison in modern society.

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This is 2013 and if the tribes want to honor bison, fine, but along with repopulating comes responsible management practices. They have the right to do what ever they want on tribal lands but not on fee land. Respecting their heritage and culture is honorable but we have to also have a clear vision of the protections afforded to non tribal ranchers and not jeopardize their ability to raise cattle without the fear of diseases that are common to buffalo.

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