The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By Jeff Hagener
Director--MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks 

FWP Invites Public to Hearings on Bison Release

 


On Aug. 19, state wildlife officials will host a public hearing in Malta to discuss and take comment on a draft environmental impact statement for bison conservation and management in Montana. This will be the fourth meeting designed exclusively for the public to express its views and opinions on the draft statewide bison EIS, prepared by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. The draft considers the possibility of bison restoration somewhere in Montana where animals could be managed as a native species. Bison are currently designated as both a wildlife species in need of management and a species in need of disease control in Montana.While no site-specific area is examined, the draft offers four alternatives. The “no action” alternative calls for no further action to restore bison at this time. The three other alternatives consider restoration of a publicly managed bison herd.

Potential impacts are evaluated for each alternative but in lieu of site-specific areas, the draft EIS displays case studies from Montana, Utah, Alaska and Canada to illustrate scenarios. The case studies reflect the general guidelines for bison restoration discussed in the draft document. During the first hearings held recently in Montana communities, we’ve heard many different opinions including: bison management won’t trample livestock interests and just the opposite. It is important to know that FWP respects and honors the opinions of all Montanans and that respect and honor is extended to the Hi-Line’s agricultural and Indian communities, hunters and wildlife conservation organizations, as well as any other interests. This draft EIS has been crafted to consider what bison management by FWP could look like, if the opportunity for such a wildlife endeavor ever emerges. It also considers a Montana without bison being managed by FWP. FWP began this exploration several years ago, knowing the complexity of the issue and the array of bison-related issues.

Wednesday evening, August 19 at 6 p.m., at Malta high School, our commitment to you is that FWP will listen with respect to the preferences and insights you bring to the discussion. You will have an opportunity to offer your ideas, views and opinions and they will be considered with equal respect as FWP moves toward a decision No matter the choice selected in this EIS, FWP wants to ensure that the public has a say in how bison are to be managed in Montana. For more information, or to comment online, visit FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov. Click on Bison EIS. The draft EIS will be available for public comment through 5 p.m. on Sept. 11.

 

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