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Interior law judge allows bison grazing on federal lands

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HELENA—A federal administrative law judge has denied a request to block permits that expand bison grazing in north-central Montana while several parties challenge them.

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte, Attorney General Austin Knudsen and the Montana Stockgrowers Association asked the U.S. Interior Department’s hearing division in August to reverse the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s granting of the permits.

Administrative Law Judge Veronica Larvie ruled on Oct. 13 that while there were several concerns about the permits, the parties failed to show that the expanded bison grazing would cause immediate and irreparable harm and she declined to block them while the case moves forward.

The Stockgrowers argue additional bison grazing will harm the cattle industry and the local economy.

The conservation group American Prairie sought the 10-year permits to remove some fences so bison could roam more freely in Phillips County south of Malta.

The grazing area in dispute covers about 108 square miles (280 square kilometers). It will allow American Prairie to increase the size of its bison herd from about 800 animals to 1,000 bison by 2025, the group said.

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