BOZEMAN—Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is hosting public meetings around the state in May as a first step toward developing a long-term bison conservation and management plan. A meeting will be held on May 24 from 6-9 p.m. at the Bozeman Holiday Inn.

The bison management plan will be developed through a programmatic environmental impact statement—expected to take three years to complete—which will address issues associated with bison and options for management as a wildlife species. The EIS will examine an array of issues and possible alternatives—including no action—and each alternative’s potential beneficial and adverse environmental, social and economic impact.

FWP will begin a formal public “scoping” process as required under the Montana Environmental Policy Act. Public scoping is aimed at identifying issues, impacts, public concerns, and conservation challenges and opportunities. The comments will assist FWP in further identifying issues and developing possible alternatives.

Some issues already identified include: the risk of bison spreading disease to domestic livestock, competition between bison and other wildlife, competition between bison and livestock for rangeland, damage to fencing, public safety, and the legal classification and status of bison in Montana.