Home sought for bison languishing in quarantine

By Matthew Brown
Bozeman, Montana (AP) 9-09

Wildlife officials on Sept. 10 have again delayed a decision on the fate of a small herd of wild bison that have languished in a government-run quarantine compound in Montana since they were spared from slaughter four years ago.

The bison, originally from Yellowstone National Park, could be killed if a suitable home for them is not found.

Media mogul Ted Turner has offered to take the animals onto his 113,000-acre Montana ranch – but wants to keep most of their offspring in return. That would go against the original notion of using the herd as seed stock to repopulate public lands across the West with the park’s genetically pure bison.

The Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and a consortium of zoos also have put in proposals for the animals.

Federal and state wildlife officials had planned to make a tentative decision on what to do with the bison Thursday. But Ken McDonald with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said that will be delayed until November because of the private ownership issues raised by Turner’s bid.

A prior attempt to move them to Wyoming collapsed this spring over concerns they could transmit the disease brucellosis to cattle.