Posted: Jul 24, 2012 1:12 PM by Dennis Bragg - KPAX News
Updated: Jul 24, 2012 3:50 PM
HELENA- A pair of Montana agencies are ready to ask the public for input as the state considers allowing bison to graze year-round outside Yellowstone National Park.
Allowing the bison to range outside the park has been contentious for several years, especially with ranchers who worry about the animals carrying disease and impacting surrounding rangelands.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Montana Department of Livestock officials say they're now ready to start a "scoping" process that may eventually lead to a formal plan for managing the bison outside the park.
The two agencies scheduled a pair of meetings in mid-August to take public comments.
Under the scoping process, the agencies will collect input to narrow down concerns that should be addressed in a formal environmental assessment. That assessment would be have to be complete, and open for additional public comment before any decisions are made on the grazing plan.
The two evening meetings are scheduled for August 20 in West Yellowstone and August 21 in Gardiner.
FWP also held recent meetings across the state about the idea of allowing bison to wander across their historic range along with the other wildlife across Montana, but that work remains in the very early stages.