HELENA — The Legislature is considering a half-dozen bills affecting bison management in Montana. Here’s a summary and status of the bills:
Senate Bill 143: Sponsored by Sen. John Brenden, R-Scobey, it establishes a year-round hunting season for bison in Montana and forbids the transfer of Yellowstone National Park bison to anywhere in Montana except the National Bison Range in Moiese. Awaits action in the Senate Fish and Game Committee.
SB256: Makes the state Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks liable for any damage to private property from wild bison. Sponsored by Sen. Eric Moore, R-Miles City. Approved by same committee last week.
SB305: Sponsored by Sen. Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo, redefines “wild bison,” possibly preventing relocation of certain animals. Approved by the same committee last week and may be on the Senate floor this week.
House Bill 249: Allows landowners to do a number of things to remove wild bison from their property, including shooting them. State game officials would have to remove the carcass. Sponsored by Rep. Alan Doane, R-Glendive. Awaits action in the House Appropriations Committee.
HB396: Sponsored by Rep. Mike Lang, R-Malta, it would require approval of the county commission before the state could relocate wild bison in the county. Endorsed Saturday by the House on a 63-37 vote and faces a final House vote Monday.
HB484: Requires state livestock and game agencies to take certain actions when bison leave Yellowstone National Park. Sponsored by Rep. Alan Redfield, R-Livingston. Endorsed Saturday by the House on a 62-38 vote, and referred to the House Appropriations Committee.
HB507: Substantially rewrites state bison policy, including restrictions on where wild bison can be transplanted. Sponsored by Rep. Bill Harris, R-Winnett. Tabled Thursday by the House Agriculture Committee.