Upcoming Bison Impact Study Hearings in Malta
State wildlife officials are in the middle of hosting public hearings to discuss and take comment on a draft environmental impact statement for bison conservation and management in Montana. For the Region 6 area, the upcoming hearing will be held in Malta on Wednesday, Aug. 19.
Bison are currently designated as both a wildlife species in need of management and a species in need of disease control in Montana. The draft statewide bison conservation and management EIS, prepared by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, considers the possibility of bison restoration somewhere in Montana where animals could be managed as a native species.
The hearing in Malta is set for three hours, from 6-9 p.m., located at the Malta High School at S. 9th St. West. FWP is encouraging anyone interested in discussing and commenting on the draft EIS to attend.
While no site-specific area is examined, the draft offers four alternatives. The "no action" alternative calls for no further action to restore bison at this time. The three other alternatives consider restoration of a publicly managed bison herd on:
- private and/or public lands of willing landowners;
- tribal lands; and/or
- a large landscape with minimal livestock conflicts.
Potential impacts are evaluated for each alternative but in lieu of site-specific areas, the draft EIS displays case studies from Montana, Utah, Alaska and Canada to illustrate scenarios. The case studies reflect the general guidelines for bison restoration discussed in the draft document.
Selection of any alternative that calls for bison restoration would require further analysis through a site-specific environmental assessment.
For more information, or to comment online, visit FWP's website at fwp.mt.gov. Click on Bison EIS. The draft EIS will be available for 90 days of public comment through 5 p.m. on Sept. 11. Comments can be mailed to: Bison Conservation and Management EIS; Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; P.O. Box 200701; Helena, MT 59620-0701. A final record of decision would likely be finalized early next year.