HomeOutdoorsUS Approves Bison Grazing on Montana Prairie Despite Objections

US Approves Bison Grazing on Montana Prairie Despite Objections

by Megan Molseed
(Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

US officials have approved a proposal to expand bison grazing on prairies within public lands in Montana. This approval is part of a vast nature-reserve effort. The proposal has received several objections from local ranchers and elected officials, before Wednesday’s approval. The decision will ultimately lead to the removal of about 30 miles of fencing on Montana prairie lands. This will allow the bison to roam more freely within expanded borders. The opposition worries that expanding the grazing areas could disrupt cattle and agriculture could be affected, the Associated Press reports.

At A Glance:

  • A Montana conservation group’s proposal to widen the grazing areas of bison in parts of Montana has found approval by U.S. officials.
  • The decision allows for around 30 miles of fencing to be removed, giving bison a wider grazing area.
  • Those who oppose the expanded grazing worry the bison could displace cattle on Montana ranches.
  • The opposition also feels the widening of bison-grazing borders could have an effect on agriculture in the area.
  • The long-term goal is to create a large area of land in which thousands of bison – and other wildlife – are free to roam.

Bison Grazing Expands On Montana Prairies

U.S. officials announced Wednesday the approval of a proposal by conservation groups to expand bison prairies in the state of Montana. The expansions include areas in the north-central region of the state. These areas will eventually turn into an extensive nature preserve, including the C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.

The decision allows the conservation groups to graze the bison on property owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. As many as 30 miles of fencing will be removed, accordingly. This is to allow for the expanded grazing efforts. The conservation groups note that there are more than 800 bison grazing in the area, roaming on both public and private land. The ultimate goal, the groups note, is to create a 5,000 square-mile area on which thousands of bison and other wildlife are free to roam about.

Some Montana Ranchers Support the Effort, Others Oppose the Move To Expand Grazing Areas

Some Montana cattle ranchers have sold the property to conservation groups to help build the reserve. However, other ranchers remain in opposition to the changes. Critics of the expanded grazing effort worry that the bison will end up displacing cattle. They also worry that the expanded borders would have a negative impact on communities dependent on Montana agriculture.

A statement from the Bureau of Land Management notes that the approval is in accordance with the legal parameters. The organization also notes that the expanded bison grazing would not bring many negative effects to the area. In fact, Theresa Hanley, the acting State Director of the BLM notes that the expanded grazing borders will help keep the public lands in a healthy state.