When buffalo roam in Montana, lots of people pay attention. In early August, representatives of state, federal, and tribal governments met in southwest Montana to discuss the ongoing management of bison that leave Yellowstone National Park.
About 70 people participated in a tour of the Taylor Fork area that lies between the park and Big Sky. Tour participants talked about the possibility of bison using the area and also possible effects on residents and business owners. The area is home to several guest ranches.
In 2015, Gov. Steve Bullock approved a plan that allows bison to wander year round in Montana outside of the park on the north and west sides with certain conditions. That decision is part of the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), which is the work of nine government agencies that have a stake in on-the-ground management of the shaggy beasts. The agencies, including the state departments of Livestock and Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, share a goal of conserving a wild and free ranging bison population while protecting cattle from brucellosis, a disease that can cause abortion. Wild bison and elk can carry the disease.
The Environmental Quality Council will hear an update on the IBMP at its meeting Sept. 27-28 in Helena.
Information on the IBMP, including past meeting summaries, official documents, and maps are available on the IBMP website.