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There are no wild, public bison year-round in Montana. They have been gone for over a century. Most Montana bison are private livestock. Those at the bison range are "display animals" in an "observation pen," in reality and by state law. Yellowstone bison are Wyoming animals visiting us seasonally, at their peril. Native American bison belong to other nations and are managed accordingly.

In contrast, the Montana Constitution directs the state to prevent unreasonable depletion of natural resources; to restore historic, scientific, cultural and recreational objects; and to provide the opportunity to harvest wild game. All apply to bison. Moreover, the legislature has provided directions (MCA 87-1-216) for restoring wild bison while protecting property rights.

We have the best place in the Great Plains for bison restoration. The area on and near the CMR National Wildlife Refuge has the most, high quality, mostly undeveloped bison habitat. It has abundant, mostly contiguous public land anchored to a federal refuge. Much nearby private land, with associated livestock allotments on federal land, is bison friendly. Private lands antagonistic to wild bison, are limited and would be protected by 87-1-216. Bison could be fenced out of lands associated with these private ranches.

Also, bison hunting and tourism would contribute substantially to depressed economies of nearby counties.

All the cards are in place (see mtwildbison.org). Petition Gov. Bullock to restore wild bison in Montana.

James Bailey

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