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There are no wild, public bison year-round in Montana. Most Montana bison are private livestock. By law, the National Bison Range has “display animals” in an “observation pen.” Wyoming’s Yellowstone bison visit us seasonally. Native American bison are managed by other nations.

In contrast, the Montana Constitution directs the state to prevent unreasonable depletion of natural resources; to restore historic, scientific, cultural and recreational objects; and to provide the opportunity to harvest wild game. All apply to bison. More, the legislature provides (MCA 87-1-216) directions for restoring wild bison while protecting private property rights.

We have the best place in the Great Plains for bison restoration. Land on and near the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge has the most high-quality, mostly undeveloped bison habitat. It has abundant, mostly contiguous public land anchored to a federal refuge. Much nearby private land, with its associated livestock allotments on federal land, is bison-friendly. Private lands antagonistic to wild bison are limited and protected by 87-1-216. Bison could be fenced out of lands associated with these private ranches.

Also, bison hunting and tourism would contribute substantially to local depressed economies.

For more, see Petition Gov. Steve Bullock to restore Montana wild bison.

Jim Bailey,


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