Wednesday, December 6, 2023

HOT NEWS: FWP Releases Long-awaited EIS for Bison


Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks today released the controversial draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on bison conservation and management.


The Executive Summary of the document states that its purpose is, “to determine if bison restoration is appropriate and if so, what potential opportunities are feasible and consistent within Montana’s laws, policies, rules, and regulations. It is Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ (FWP) desire to fulfill its statutory obligations to manage all wild ungulates in the state, while recognizing that bison management presents additional challenges compared to other species. “


While most Montanans love the Charlie Russell-like images of the “olden days” which include massive herds of free-roaming bison, the agricultural community is concerned that this romantic vision for Montana's future could result in havoc that MT FWP is unprepared to control. 


The EIS outlines the following four possible alternatives for bison restoration.

  • Alternative #1: No Action 
  • Alternative #2: Restoration of a Publicly Managed Bison Herd on the Private and/or Public Lands of Willing Landowner(s
  • Alternative #3: Restoration of a Publicly Managed Bison Herd on Tribal Lands 
  • Alternative #4: Restoration of a Publicly Managed Bison Herd on a Large Landscape Where there are Minimal Conflicts with Livestock


The report emphasizes that with any of the above-listed alternatives comes the “opportunity” to carry out a five-year test project. It also assures the reader that in implementation of the test projects, guidelines further outlined in the document will be followed including, “1) only use animals free of reportable diseases and free of cattle gene introgression; 2) involve a pre-restoration range assessment; 3) have a well thought out containment and management plan; 4) have secure full funding for at least a five-year test period; and 5) have local community involvement.”

The statement did not identify where possible test projects might occur nor did it provide an address where parties interested in hosting bison might inquire.

Northern Ag Network's Russell Nemetz spoke with Jay Bodner, Director of Natural Resources for the Montana Stockgrowers Association regarding the Wild Bison Draft EIS and what needs to be included for it to be workable for landowners.

The public is welcome to comment on the draft EIS online MT FWP or by Mail at:

    • Bison Conservation and Management EIS 
    • Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
    • P.O. Box 200701 
    • Helena, MT 59620-0701 

Comments will be accepted until September 11, 2015 at 5 pm (MDT).


The EIS in its entirety can be downloaded at the bottom of this page or by going to MT FWP Website.





© Northern Ag Network 2015




{{flickr| |title=IMG_1947_Bison |description= |photographer=Paul Schultz |photographer_location= Kenmore, USA |photographer_url= |flickr_url=

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