FISH, WILDLIFE AND PARKS

BOZEMAN – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Montana Department of Livestock are seeking public comment on a draft environmental assessment reviewing the potential for bison to occupy public lands adjacent to Yellowstone National Park year-round.

The draft EA evaluates several options, or “alternatives,” allowing increased tolerance of bison in the Hebgen and Gardiner basins. It also includes a “No Action” alternative, which would result in no changes to current bison tolerance zones defined by the Interagency Bison Management Plan.

Prompting for the environment assessment came in part from the Citizens Working Group on Yellowstone Bison, which formally recommended expanded tolerance for bison to the IBMP partners, citing a shortage of habitat for bison given current populations in Yellowstone.

The alternative widest in geographic scope (Alternative B) would allow for bison to roam year-round in portions of the Gallatin National Forest near West Yellowstone north through the Taylor Fork drainage, and for bull bison to use areas north of Yellowstone National Park’s boundary in the Gardiner Basin year-round. Other alternatives focus on smaller geographic areas on Yellowstone’s western boundary or focus solely on the Gardiner Basin.

The draft EA will be available for public comment through 5 p.m. on Aug. 13.
Comments can be emailed to yearroundbison-ea@mt.gov.