Tuesday Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks begins a series of public hearings to gauge support for a publicly-managed bison herd. Whatever the state decides to do, FWP spokesman Tom Palmer says the interests of the livestock industry will be taken into account.
"Livestock interests are extremely interested in this particular EIS and we’ll be hearing from them. Truthfully, if we’re going to have them on public or private lands, it’s going to be with willing landowners. If we have them on large landscapes somewhere, it will be in places where they don’t conflict with ranching and livestock operations," Palmer says.
FWP is considering whether bison could be managed on tribal lands, selected public or private lands, or a broad swath of territory across the state. The agency can also choose to keep things the way they are, with bison roaming free only in Yellowstone National Park and a few "conservation herds" on private lands.
The first public hearing is Tuesday night at the Holiday Inn in Bozeman, with another Wednesday in Billings. Additional sessions are planned for later this month in Great Falls, Malta, and Miles City.