BOZEMAN — The state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is asking its bison expert to step down to a lower paying job as legislative budget reductions force the agency to cut five wildlife division positions.

Biologist Arnie Dood says he was surprised by the move, and that he didn't think the organization would treat him that way after he dedicated his life's work to the agency.

Dood hasn't decided if he'll take the brucellosis technician job the department offered him.

Cuts in the wildlife division will also reduce the hours put in by three upland bird biologists by 25 percent. Department-wide, 20 positions are being cut.

Division head Ken McDonald says cuts were made based on need, which is quickly diminishing for Dood with the imminent completion of the statewide bison plan he was hired to help draft.

Critics have called the decision a bad move.

"Who else in the department has the knowledge and experience and desire to carry this to fruition?" questioned Glenn Hockett of the Gallatin Wildlife Association.

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