FWP to host bison impact study hearings

   State wildlife officials will host five public hearings to discuss and take comment on a draft environmental statement for bison conservation and management in Montana.

   Bison are currently designated as both wildlife species in need of management and a species in need of disease control in Montana.

   The draft statewide bison conservation and management EIS, prepared by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, considers the possibility of bison restoration somewhere in Montana where animals could be managed as a native species.

   A hearing is set for three hours, from 6-9 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 26, in Miles City at the BLM Office, 111 Garryowen Road.

   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 on: private and/or public lands of willing landowners; tribal lands; and/or a large landscape with minimal livestock conflicts.

   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.

   Selection of any alternative that calls for bison restoration would require further analysis through a site-specific environmental assessment.

   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 90 days of public comment through 5 p.m. Sept. 11. Comments can be mailed to: Bison Conservation and Management EIS; Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; P.O. Box 200701; Helena, MT 59620-0701. A final record of decision would likely be finalized early next year.