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Future for Bison in Montana

Bison in Winter

Previously FWP has evaluated the possibility of relocating disease-free bison to other areas in Montana as part of the ongoing quarantine feasibility study.  The bison in the quarantine feasibility study are part of a research project directed by FWP and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at a 400-acre bison quarantine facility north of Yellowstone National Park.  As of the spring of 2012, these bison have been relocated to ongoing quarantine pastures on Turner Enterprise’s Green River Ranch and the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

During its meeting on January 13, 2011 the FWP Commission endorsed FWP's proposal to prepare an environmental assessment on the quarantine bison, as well as, to examine the potential to restore a population of wild bison somewhere within the state.

FWP has not currently established a timeline for possible bison restoration, but is rather seeking to explore options that could be considered in the future through a formal Montana Environmental Policy Act process.

In the past, animals originating from Yellowstone National Park have been used to help restore elk, antelope, and other wildlife herds in Montana and the West.  If the decision were made to restore a population of bison FWP would examine the potential to use bison originating from Yellowstone National Park, as well as, bison from other source herds.

Wild and hunted bison exist in Alaska, Arizona, Utah, Canada and other places. Today in Montana hunts are limited to bison that migrate north from Yellowstone National Park into winter habitats near West Yellowstone and Gardiner.

Bison Discussion Group

October 2014 Discussion Group Meeting (Great Falls)

This is the third facilitated gathering of bison interests.

July 2014 Discussion Group Meeting (Billings, Big Horn Resort)

This is the second facilitated gathering of bison interests. The discussion is designed to review issues and possible alternatives as Montana moves ahead with an environmental impact statement for bison conservation and management.

April 2014 Discussion Group Meeting (Lewistown)


September 2013 Discussion Group Meeting (Lewistown)

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks hosted a two-day discussion in Lewistown on public issues related to efforts to create a long-term bison conservation and management plan for Montana in September 2013. FWP brought together a number of state and community leaders for a facilitated gathering that was open to the public. The general purpose of the meeting was to build trust and understanding among different interests as they candidly discussed and examined the entire planning process.

Statewide Bison Management Plan EIS Public Scoping

In order to prepare a statewide bison management plan, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is moving forward with the development of a programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) to address the potential for bison restoration in Montana. The EIS will examine an array of possible alternatives from a no action alternative to a number of different bison restoration alternatives and the potential impacts of those alternatives.

Public Scoping Documents

Bison Future - Posters

Opportunity for Public Comment


The comment deadline has passed. It was June 25, 2012.

Public Scoping Meetings

Eight scoping meetings were held in May 2012. Here are the dates, locations and meeting public comments:


Location & Minutes

Meeting Public Comments

May 14


188 KB

May 15


162 KB

May 16


313 KB

May 17


192 KB

May 21


216 KB

May 22

Miles City

341 KB

May 23

Great Falls

203 KB

May 24


315 KB

Summary of Public Comments

Eight scoping meetings were held in May 2012. The following is a summary of the primary issues and concerns identified from the comments, questions and suggestions received.