Wednesday, July 25, 2012

FWP, MDOL Announce Environmental Review of Year-Round Bison Tolerance

Earlier this week the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and Montana Department of Livestock announced that they will be jointly conducting an environmental review of allowing some bison to inhabit lands adjacent to or near the border of Yellowstone National Park year-round. This scoping notice – the first step in the environmental review process – is intended to solicit public comment regarding the proposal.

The proposed action is an adaptive change to the Interagency Bison Management Plan that would allow for year-round bison use in the following portions of the Gallatin National Forest: The Hebgen Basin, the Cabin Creek Recreation and Wildlife Management Unit, the Monument Mountain Unit of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness Area, the Upper Gallatin River corridor, and for year-round use by bull bison in the Gardiner Basin.

Some of the issues intended to be addressed include:

* How would the year-round presence of bison affect public safety?

* What are the effects to private landowners in the vicinity of the year-round bison habitats?

* Would the year-round presence of bison provide for additional bison hunting opportunities?

* Would the bison move back into YNP over time without hazing activities?

* Would there be a measureable change in seasonal bison movements if there was year-round habitat available?

* How would the year-round presence of bison affect local livestock operations?

* How would the year-round presence of bison affect other wildlife and habitat?

* What is the likelihood that bison will move beyond the proposed boundaries, what are consequences of these movements, and how will they be mitigated?

Public meetings on the environmental assessment and decision notice are scheduled for:

* West Yellowstone: Aug. 20, 6-8 p.m. at the Holiday Inn

* Gardiner: Aug. 21, 6-8 p.m. at the Gardiner High School Theatre

The public scoping period will end August 24, with a draft EA expected by late October. Public comment on the draft EA is expected to close in late November, with a final decision on the EA expected by mid-December.

Comments and questions can be directed to:

Bison Habitat EA
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
PO Box 200701
Helena MT 59620

Bison EA
Montana Department of Livestock
PO Box 200201
Helena MT 59620

Copies of the scoping document can be found on the FWP website.

Hiking in

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