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BILLINGS - A coalition of wildlife advocates wants a Montana judge to overturn an agreement that allows dozens of Yellowstone National Park bison to be transferred onto billionaire Ted Turner's private ranch.

A lawsuit filed Tuesday in Gallatin County asks District Court Judge Holly Brown to declare the animals a public trust and protect them from privatization.

In 2005, the bison were spared from a government slaughter program meant to guard cattle against bison infected with the animal disease brucellosis. The plan was to use the 88 bison to repopulate public lands in the West with new herds.

But Montana officials failed to find them a home. Turner agreed to take care of them in exchange for 75 percent of the animals' offspring over the next five years.

 

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