The National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Montana Department of Livestock, and FWP developed the Intergency Bison Management Plan, which was adopted in 2000, after 10 years of negotiations. More than 67,000 public comments were received and considered.
The Interagency Bison Plan seeks to: (1) reduce the risk of brucellosis transmission from bison to cattle by keeping the animals away from each other; (2) maintain a wild, free-ranging bison population; and (3) protect the economic interest and viability of Montana's livestock industry.
One of the most important aspects of the plan is not that bison can be hunted in Montana, but that a limited number of bison can now inhabit more than 460,000 areas, or about 720 square miles of southwestern Montana. It's a step toward allowing Montana to manage bison like other wildlife. The plan allows bison to inhabit certain areas in southwestern Montana, while in other areas, officials haze bison back into YNP. If hazing doesn't work, bison may be captured and tested for brucellosis. Depending on the overall population, brucelloisis-free bison can be released. Bison that test positive for brucellosis, however, are sent to slaughter with the meat and hides donated to Montana Indian tribes and food banks.
Researchers are exploring the possibility of expanding brucellosis-free bison beyond park boundaries through a quarantine program. FWP is working with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to find and isolate disease-free bison that leave YNP. These disease-free animals and their young could then become the stock for restoration projects in other parts of the bison's historic range.