August 21, 2012
Acting upon a proposal from the Montana Department of Agriculture and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks to expand the areas outside Yellowstone National Park where bison may roam, four national conservation groups announced a program to reimburse landowners for installing fences to keep bison off their property.
Defenders of Wildlife, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club said they will reimburse 50% of the cost (up to $1,000 per landowner) for purchasing and installing fencing to keep bison off private property where landowners do not want them in the Gardiner and Hebgen Basins.
According to the groups, bison often travel beyond park boundaries in search of food, particularly during harsh winters. Until recently, bison were simply hazed back to the park, shot on sight, or shipped to slaughter.
Jim Peaco, U.S. National Park Service
The severe winter of 2010-11 saw a large bison exodus from Yellowstone into the Gardiner Basin. Bison also roam on Horse Butte in the Hebgen Basin area in winter months, said Defenders of Wildlife
“Making it safer for bison to roam outside of Yellowstone is vital to the restoration of the species,” said Mark Pearson, conservation program director with Greater Yellowstone Coalition. “The ultimate goal is not just to build fences to keep bison out but to build bridges with local communities toward acceptance of this native species as valuable wildlife.”