(HELENA)- A pair of Montana agencies are ready to ask the public about what issues should be reviewed as the state analyzes the idea of allowing bison to grave year around outside Yellowstone National Park.
The question of allowing the bison to range outside the park has been a contentious one for several years, especially with ranchers who worry about the animals carrying disease and impacting surrounding rangelands.
Now, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Montana Department of Livestock say they’re ready to start a “scoping” process that may eventually lead to a formal plan for managing the bison outside the park.
Today the two agencies announced they’ve scheduled a pair of meetings in mid-August to take public comments. Under the scoping process, the agencies will be collecting input to help narrow down issues and concerns that should be addressed in a formal environmental assessment. That assessment would be have to be complete, and open for additional public comment before any decisions are made on the grazing plan.
The two evening meetings are scheduled for August 20th in West Yellowstone and August 21st in Gardiner.
FWP also held recent meetings across the state about the idea of allowing bison to wander across their historic range along with the other wildlife across Montana. But that work remains in the very early stages.