BILLINGS, Mont. — U.S. officers mentioned they may take into account in coming years whether or not to reintroduce wild bison to a million-acre (400,000-hectare) federal wildlife refuge in central Montana, a transfer that may be at odds with Republicans within the state who need to restrict the place bison can roam.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans starting in July “to engage Tribes and stakeholders on the topics of bison and bighorn sheep reintroductions” on the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, a distant panorama of badlands and prairie bisected by the Missouri River, based on an Interior Department assertion.
Bison traditionally roamed the area however had been worn out throughout most of North America by overhunting within the late nineteenth century. Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte and his fellow Republicans within the Legislature have sought to make it more durable to reintroduce bison to new areas.
Gianforte final week introduced the cancellation of a state bison administration plan that may have made it simpler to reintroduce the animals. His administration settled a lawsuit with a property rights group that claimed that then-Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, had been scheming to ascertain a free-roaming herd inside the Charles M. Russell refuge, named for the western artist whose work captured the world’s rugged magnificence.
A bunch of Native American state lawmakers on Tuesday requested the Biden administration to craft a plan to reintroduce bison to the refuge and on public lands adjoining to the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, together with Glacier National Park and the Rocky Mountain Front.
Rep. Tyson Running Wolf, a Blackfeet member from Browning, mentioned it was “superior” that bison could be considered for the refuge. He urged the administration to also look at bison for the Glacier area.
Interior Department officials provided no specifics on their plans beyond a statement saying the wildlife service was in the final planning stages before launching a “multiple year” process to consider bison and bighorn sheep reintroductions. Other wildlife and habitat issues also would be considered.
The refuge already has bighorn sheep and it is uncertain if their inclusion by the agency refers to plans to bolster existing populations or put them into more areas.