Bison that are currently under federal quarantine on Ted Turner’s ranch near Bozeman are slated for re-location to a temporary home. Costs could run as high as $1.1 million dollars if they are moved to state land, or much less if they are moved to northeastern Montana on tribal land where fencing is already paid for and in place and upkeep becomes the responsibility of the tribal rather than the state government.
Currently FWP is soliciting public comment on the proposal to relocate about 200 bison that were part of a brucellosis study of Yellowstone National Park animals.
FWP Wildlife Bureau Chief Ken McDonald said the goal is to relocate up to 150 of the disease-free bison from the quarantine facility and from a temporary site at the Green Ranch near Bozeman. A “no action” alternative would have the bison remain at these locations.
Should the animals be relocated, the bison would be held for an interim period pending completion of a statewide conservation strategy which is expected by 2015. That conservation strategy would identify potential permanent locations for brucellosis-free bison.
FWP says if the bison are moved they will keep monitoring and testing all of the bison at any of the interim sites. Management plans for each site would also include commitments by FWP or the Tribes to immediately respond to any escapes of bison from the facilities.
Several years ago in hopes of getting the bison on their land before they were placed at the Turner ranch, Fort Peck tribes administration paid for and placed fences around 4,800 acres of pasture set aside for the Yellowstone bison.
If instead the bison are placed on state property, costs will range from $246,000 to $1.16 million for the initial move plus up to $139,000 for annual maintenance.
Three sites are being considered on state property. In addition to Fort Peck, Fort Belnap is also under consideration however they would have prepare land and fencing.
A public comment period on the the bison relocation project will run through October 19. To see the complete environmental assessment or comment on the proposal, visit http://www.fwp.mt.gov. Under the News tab, look for “Recent public notices.”
The full FWP commission is expected to vote on the bison relocation at their November meeting.
FWP will host a public meeting in Glasgow Oct. 17 to discuss and seek comment on an environmental assessment of four interim locations and management for about 150 disease-free bison pending the development of a statewide bison conservation strategy.
The interim locations inclulde the Fort Peck reservation and three other wildlife management areas in northcenteral and northeastern Montana. Under the bison could be moved to one or any combination of the four potential locations.
The public meeting in Glasgow will be held Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. at the Glasgow Civic Center.