Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will be hosting a series of public meetings around the state this month as a first step toward developing a long-term bison conservation and management plan for the state. In southeast Montana, interested persons may attend the meeting in Miles City, which will be held on May 22 from 6-9 p.m. at the BLM, Miles City Field Office (111 Garryowen Road).
The bison management plan will be developed through a programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) – expected to take three years to complete – which will address issues associated with bison and options for their long-term management as a Montana wildlife species. The EIS will examine an array of issues and possible alternatives—including no action—and each alternative’s potential beneficial and adverse environmental, social, and economic impact.
FWP will begin a formal public “scoping” process as required under the Montana Environmental Policy Act. Public scoping is aimed at identifying issues, impacts, public concerns, and conservation challenges and opportunities. The comments will assist FWP in further identifying issues and developing possible alternatives.
Some issues already identified include: (1) the risk of bison spreading disease to domestic livestock, (2) competition between bison and other wildlife, (3) competition between bison and livestock for rangeland, (4) damage to fencing, (5) public safety, and (6) the legal classification and status of bison in Montana.
For detailed information, including research leading this stage of bison management, log onto fwp.mt.gov. Under 'For Fish & Wildlife Information' choose "Bison Background."