A long-debated idea of establishing a "huntable population of free-ranging bison some where in Montana," will get a kick start by the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Department this spring with a series of public meetings required as part of a "scoping process."
The first meeting will be held in Missoula on May 14, with others to follow in seven other Montana cities. One will be held in Billings on May 21, at the Holiday Inn Grand, Convention Center, 6 to 9 p.m.
The agency issued a press release last week announcing the public meetings as necessary in "developing a long-term bison conservation and management plan for the state."
The plan will be developed through an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) – a process which will take about three years. It is projected to be completed in the winter of 2014.
The agency explained that the EIS will examine an "array of possible alternatives," and the impacts of each.
The proposal is not without controversy, especially from agriculture. Livestock producers are concerned about the potential for the spread of disease, competition with livestock for grazing, damage to fencing and public safety. Others are concerned about the impact on other wildlife and the legal classification of bison.
The other meetings will be held:
—May 14 Missoula Holiday Inn Downtown – 200 S. Pattee St.
—May 15 Kalispell Red Lion Hotel – 20 N. Main St.
—May 16 Glasgow Cottonwood Inn – 45 1st Ave NE
—May 17 Helena Montana Wild Center – 2668 Broadwater Ave.
—May 22 Miles City BLM Center – 111 Garryowen Rd.
—May 23 Great Falls Townhouse Inn – 1411 10th Ave. S.
—May 24 Bozeman Holiday Inn on Baxter – 5 Baxter Lane
The Big Sky Business Journal
P.O. Box 3262
Billings, MT 59103