American Prairie Reserve camp

A sign along a county road south of Malta points the way to an American Prairie Reserve camp. Ranchers who oppose the reserve for its potential to alter the local agriculture community erected the sign seen to the right.

Matthew Brown/Associated Press

BILLINGS (AP) — The managers of a sprawling wildlife reserve in north-east Montana are seeking federal approval to run wild bison on a second piece of property as the size of their private herd grows.

The American Prairie Reserve has asked the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to allow bison to graze on the Flat Creek Allotment in south Phillips County. That would add 22,000 acres of new habitat for the animals to the 30,000 acres already in use.

A spokeswoman says the group expects to have up to 600 bison by this spring.

BLM officials said the reserve also wants permission to remove interior fencing and to manage their private lands and adjoining public lands as common pasture.

Landowners in the area have said the growth of the reserve threatens agricultural production.

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