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West Yellowstone, Montana
Working in the field every day to stop the
slaughter of Yellowstone's wild free roaming buffalo

Total Yellowstone
Buffalo Killed
Since 1985
7,842
(past counts)

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Montana Legislature 2013

Shoshone Bannock Resolution opposing bills regarding bison to restrict their range or otherwise remove. (PDF 49kb)

Montana & Wyoming Tribal Leaders Council Resolution opposing bills that threaten the viability of the buffalo. (PDF 135kb)





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Take Action!

None of the bills introduced in the 2013 Montana Legislature are pro-buffalo. Please ask Governor Bullock not to compromise and veto all of the anti-buffalo legislation coming to his desk. Please ask legislators to vote to kill these bills. Thank you!

PLEASE CONTACT MONTANA GOVERNOR STEVE BULLOCK!
It's vital to make contact with Montana Governor Steve Bullock and let him know you stand for protecting America's wild buffalo and our natural heritage. If you live out of state, let him know why you visit Montana, tell him what is important to you, ask him where he stands on these bills and to show leadership by working to defeat legislation that seeks to destroy our last wild buffalo and public wildlife.

or contact him directly at

Governor Steve Bullock
Office of the Governor
MT State Capitol
P.O. Box 200801
Helena, MT 59620-0801
Toll Free: 855-318-1330 or 406-444-3111
FAX: 406-444-5529
governor@mt.gov



CONTACT MONTANA LEGISLATORS
http://leg.mt.gov/css/About-the-Legislature/Lawmaking-Process/contact-legislators.asp

If you can't attend the public hearings, please call and leave a message with an entire committee or individual Montana legislator: (406) 444-4800.

You can also email a brief message (limited to 1250 characters) to an entire committee or individual Montana legislator:
http://leg.mt.gov/css/Sessions/63rd/legwebmessage.asp


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Bills passed by the Legislature and
signed into law by the Governor

HB 328 "AN ACT ALLOWING NOTIFICATION OF SPECIAL WILD BUFFALO HUNTING LICENSE RECIPIENTS AS TO WHERE WILD BUFFALO OR BISON ARE LOCATED; AND AMENDING SECTION 87-2-730, MCA."

  • BFC TESTIMONY: (PDF, 85kb)
  • HEARING RECORDING: (HB 328 Hearing begins at 00:14:25 into the media clip)
    http://montanalegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=&clip_id=2504&meta_id=33591
  • BILL TEXT: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billhtml/HB0328.htm
  • SPONSOR: Rep. Ted Washburn
  • STATUS: Signed into law by Gov. Bullock - Passed Senate 40 YEAS, 9 NAYS - Passed House 79 YEAS, 20 NAYS
  • IMPACT TO BUFFALO/OUR WILDLIFE: HB 328 would repeal Montana's 'fair-chase' hunt of migratory buffalo by permitting state officials to identify "the actual physical location" of buffalo to be shot by hunters. According to department testimony, repealing the prohibition on identifying the actual physical location of buffalo will conform to an informal policy adopted by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks of disclosing such information to Treaty Tribe hunters. Montana can resolve this issue by adopting a policy that conforms to state law in a manner that treats all hunters equally. Have we forgotten the national firestorm that led the Montana legislature to pass this prohibition into law?

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Bills passed by the Legislature and vetoed by the Governor

SB 256 "AN ACT MAKING THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH, WILDLIFE, AND PARKS LIABLE FOR DAMAGE TO PRIVATE PROPERTY BY WILD BUFFALO AND BISON; REQUIRING AN ESTIMATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY DAMAGE AND COSTS FOR WHICH THE DEPARTMENT WOULD BE LIABLE IF A WILD BUFFALO OR BISON PROPOSED FOR RELEASE OR TRANSPLANTATION ESCAPES; AND AMENDING SECTION 87-1-216, MCA."

  • HEARING RECORDING: (Hearing on SB 256 begins at 01:19:25 into the media clip) http://montanalegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=&clip_id=2558&meta_id=34505
  • BFC TESTIMONY: (PDF, 93kb) (PDF, 45kb)
  • BILL TEXT: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billhtml/SB0256.htm
  • SPONSOR: Sen. Frederick (Eric) Moore
  • STATUS: Enrolled for transmittal to Gov. Bullock for approval or veto 4/23/13. Passed House 61 YEAS, 39 NAYS - and passed Senate 30 YEAS, 20 NAYS 4/22/13
  • FISCAL NOTE: (PDF, 57kb)
  • Governor's Veto Text: (PDF 98kb)
  • IMPACT TO BUFFALO/OUR WILDLIFE: SB 256 would legislatively undo a long standing Montana Supreme Court precedent that wildlife does not belong to any owner by making the state liable for any private property damage or public safety hazard caused by reintroduced buffalo. In Rathbone v. Montana (1960) the Montana Supreme Court found that a property owner in Montana "must recognize the fact that there may be some injury to property or inconvenience from wild game for which there is no recourse." This precedent was recently affirmed in Park County Stockgrowers Association v. Montana (2013) by Judge E. Wayne Phillips: "Montana's Constitution contains no provision safeguarding against threats to personal safety caused by naturally occurring conditions such as native wildlife. To the contrary, Montana's Constitution, laws, and regulations provide special considerations to assure that our wild places and the creatures that inhabit them are preserved for future generations." (citing STATE V. BOYER 2002)
SB 305 "AN ACT REVISING THE DEFINITION OF WILD BUFFALO AND WILD BISON; AND AMENDING SECTIONS 81-1-101, 87-2-101, AND 87-6-101, MCA."
  • HEARING RECORDING: (Hearing on SB 305 begins at 00:32:55 into the media clip) http://montanalegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=&clip_id=2558&meta_id=34493
  • BFC TESTIMONY: (PDF, 93kb)
  • SPONSOR: Sen. Jim Peterson
  • STATUS: Enrolled for transmittal to Gov. Bullock for approval or veto 4/24/13. Passed House 59 YEAS, 40 NAYS and Senate 31 YEAS, 19 NAYS
  • BILL TEXT: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billhtml/SB0305.htm
  • Governor's Veto Text: (PDF 66kb)
  • IMPACT TO BUFFALO/OUR WILDLIFE: SB 305 revises the definition of wild buffalo as "never" been reduced to captivity and "never" owned by a person. A wild buffalo that "has not" been reduced to captivity and "is not" owned by a person is the current definition. Under SB 305, any buffalo reintroduced or reduced to some form of captivity would not be treated under the law as wild buffalo in Montana. Part of the Yellowstone buffalo population was also reintroduced into captivity at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch in the early 1900s. The sponsor should be asked how SB 305 affects those members of the population that were reintroduced and released from captivity but bred with wild buffalo “never” reduced to captivity and “never” owned by a person. There is no legal purpose served in re-defining the current definition of wild buffalo as SB 305 would have it. The current definition is clear: wildlife is not ‘owned’ like property, and is free from captivity.

HB 396 "AN ACT REQUIRING APPROVAL OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS BEFORE THE DEPARTMENTS OF LIVESTOCK OR FISH, WILDLIFE, AND PARKS MAY AUTHORIZE ANY RELEASE, TRANSPLANTATION, OR RELOCATION OF WILD BUFFALO OR BISON CERTIFIED AS BRUCELLOSIS-FREE INTO A MONTANA COUNTY; AMENDING SECTIONS 81-2-120 AND 87-1-216, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE."

  • BFC TESTIMONY: (PDF, 101kb, PDF 59kb)
  • HEARING RECORDING: (HB 396 hearing begins 00:26:00 into the media clip)
    http://montanalegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=&clip_id=2504&meta_id=33593
  • FISCAL NOTE: (PDF, 57kb)
  • BILL TEXT: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billhtml/HB0396.htm
  • SPONSOR: Rep. Mike Lang
  • STATUS: VICTORY FOR BUFFALO-OUR WILDLIFE! Governor Bullock vetoed HB 396 on 4/22/13
  • Governor's Veto Text: (PDF 98kb)
  • IMPACT TO BUFFALO/OUR WILDLIFE: HB 396 would have the Montana legislature cede, by unconstitutional means, authority over buffalo introduced or transferred in Montana as public wildlife to County Commissioners. HB 396 would require County Commissioner(s) approval before any wild buffalo could be released or relocated in a county or counties in Montana. HB 396 would also legislate a conflict of interest by permitting the commercialization of wild buffalo - to be auctioned and sold by the Dept. of Livestock to ‘offset’ the costs of capturing, testing, quarantining and vaccinating the native species. This offensive provision in HB 396 opens the door for the Montana Dept. of Livestock to turn the last buffalo population that retains their identity as a wildlife species into chattel and private property.

Dead Bills:


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HB 249 "AN ACT REVISING LAWS RELATED TO THE PRESENCE OF WILD BUFFALO OR WILD BISON ON PRIVATE PROPERTY; AMENDING SECTION 81-2-121, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE."

  • HEARING RECORDING: http://montanalegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=11&clip_id=1206
  • BFC TESTIMONY: (PDF, 90kb; PDF, 45kb)
  • BILL TEXT: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billhtml/HB0249.htm
  • SPONSOR: Rep. Alan Doane
  • STATUS: VICTORY FOR BUFFALO-OUR WILDLIFE! HB 249 was TABLED in House Appropriations committee 2/26/13
  • FISCAL NOTE: (PDF, 61 kb)
  • IMPACT TO BUFFALO/OUR WILDLIFE: Under HB 249, Montana taxpayers and hunters will pay nearly $600,000 over the next several years to establish a 'right to take' wild buffalo on private land ~ simultaneously robbing Montanan's of our taxpayer money to destroy our public wildlife.

    Since 1919, in Montana, "A person who willfully moves or causes to be moved" domestic livestock "from their owner's customary range without the permission of the owner" does so on fear of being subject to fines and penalties and imprisonment. (MCA 81-5-101. Moving Livestock from customary range forbidden.)

    HB 249's state sanction to destroy wild buffalo on sight on private property is an attempt to bypass Montana Supreme Court precedent finding that landowners have some responsibility of sharing the land with public wildlife on private lands, excerpted here: Montana is one of the few areas in the nation where wild game abounds. It is regarded as one of the greatest of the state's natural resources, as well as the chief attraction for visitors. Wild game existed here long before the coming of man. One who acquires property in Montana does so with notice and knowledge of the presence of wild game and presumably is cognizant of its natural habits. Wild game does not possess the power to distinguish between fructus naturales and fructus industriales, and cannot like domestic animals be controlled through an owner. Accordingly, a property owner in this state must recognize the fact that there may be some injury to property or inconvenience from wild game for which there is no recourse. (quoting State v. Rathbone, 110 Mont. 225, 100 P.2d 86, 92-93 (1940)).

    This wildlife protecting precedent was recently re-affirmed in a 2013 court decision in Park County (Park County Stockgrowers Association v. Montana) recognizing migratory buffalo are part of Montana's landscape and natural heritage.
HB 312 "AN ACT PROVIDING AUTHORIZATION FOR TESTING AND PREVALENCE REDUCTION OF BRUCELLOSIS IN LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE; ESTABLISHING RESPONSIBILITY FOR TESTING COSTS; REQUIRING REPORTING; PROVIDING RULEMAKING AUTHORITY; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE AND A RETROACTIVE APPLICABILITY DATE."
  • BFC TESTIMONY: (PDF, 88 kb)
    HEARING RECORDING: (HB 312 Hearing begins at 1:10:28 into the media clip) http://montanalegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=11&clip_id=1441
  • FISCAL NOTE: (PDF, 68 kb)
  • BILL TEXT: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billhtml/HB0312.htm
  • SPONSOR: Rep. Alan Redfield
  • STATUS: VICTORY FOR BUFFALO-OUR WILDLIFE! HB 312 was TABLED in House Agriculture committee 2/15/13
  • IMPACT TO BUFFALO/OUR WILDLIFE: HB 312 gives the Montana Department of Livestock unprecedented authority over migratory elk populations and other public wildlife. HB 312 requires Montana's veterinarian "in coordination" with Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to "develop brucellosis surveillance and prevalence reduction procedures" for elk in southwest Montana. As practiced by Montana, brucellosis "prevalence reduction" in wildlife means drugging/capturing, testing for antibodies, and slaughter. While there has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission from migratory buffalo to cattle, HB 312 requires the Montana state veterinarian to enforce MCA 81-2-120 in a manner that eliminates or minimizes any disease risk "as much as possible." That means if migratory buffalo were identified by the state vet as a source of infection in livestock, HB 312 would require buffalo to be destroyed by firearms, and or subject them to hazing, capture, quarantine, and transport to slaughterhouses. In brief, HB 312 would eliminate wild migratory buffalo from occupying habitat in Montana altogether if the state veterinarian finds buffalo to have likely infected cattle with brucellosis. A Fiscal Note for HB 312 has been requested to determine the costs borne by taxpayers and hunters.

HB 484 "AN ACT CLARIFYING THE DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LIVESTOCK AND THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH, WILDLIFE, AND PARKS FOR MANAGING WILD BUFFALO OR WILD BISON THAT MIGRATE FROM YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK INTO THE STATE OF MONTANA; AMENDING SECTIONS 81-2-120, 87-1-216, 87-1-271, 87-1-304, 87-2-101, 87-2-701, 87-2-702, 87-2-730, 87-2-731, AND 87-6-101, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE."

  • BFC TESTIMONY: (PDF, 94kb; PDF, 61kb; WORD, 7.6 MB)
  • HEARING RECORDING: (Hearing on HB 484 begins at 01:09:45 into the media clip)
    http://montanalegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=1982&meta_id=23910
  • FISCAL NOTE: (PDF, 58.8)
  • SPONSOR: Rep. Alan Redfield
  • STATUS: VICTORY FOR BUFFALO-OUR WILDLIFE! HB 484 was TABLED in House Appropriations committee 2/26/13
  • BILL TEXT: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billhtml/HB0484.htm
  • IMPACT TO BUFFALO/OUR WILDLIFE: HB 484 takes discretionary authority in MCA 81-2-120 and makes it mandatory for the Dept. of Livestock and Dept. of Fish, Wildlife, & Parks to shoot, harass by ‘hazing’, capture for quarantine and trap for slaughter all buffalo migrating into Montana. HB 484 also requires the Dept. of Livestock to adopt rules enforcing MCA 81-2-120. Once adopted, the rules could be litigated for enforcement because HB 484 mandates the Dept. of Livestock remove all migratory buffalo from our state. Outside of Yellowstone National Park, migratory buffalo occupy less than a fraction of 1% of the nearly 100 million acres of land in Montana. Yet HB 484 would reduce this fraction of habitat to zero for this valued native grassland species. HB 484 would also require the state to somehow seek prior authorization from private landowners for migratory buffalo to roam in Montana. If HB 484 becomes law, these, along with many other private property owners’ rights will continue to be trampled upon by the state of Montana as HB 484 prohibits migratory buffalo from occupying habitat in the state.
HB 507 "AN ACT GENERALLY REVISING MANAGEMENT OF WILD BUFFALO AND WILD BISON; APPLYING LIVESTOCK LAWS TO CERTAIN WILD BUFFALO AND WILD BISON; RESTRICTING WHERE WILD BUFFALO AND WILD BISON MAY BE RELEASED OR TRANSPLANTED; GRANTING RULEMAKING AUTHORITY; AMENDING SECTIONS 15-1-101, 15-24-921, 81-1-101, 81-2-120, 81-3-201, 81-4-602, 81-4-603, 81-5-101, 81-5-104, 87-1-216, 87-1-271, 87-1-304, 87-2-101, 87-2-701, 87-2-702, 87-2-730, 87-2-731, 87-6-101, AND 87-6-906, MCA; AND REPEALING SECTION 81-2-121, MCA."
  • HEARING RECORDING: (Hearing on HB 507 begins at 02:14:40 into the media clip)
    http://montanalegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=1982&meta_id=23911
  • BFC TESTIMONY: (PDF, 90kb)
  • SPONSOR: Rep. Bill Harris
  • STATUS: VICTORY FOR BUFFALO-OUR WILDLIFE! TABLED House Agriculture committee 2/22/13
  • BILL TEXT: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billhtml/HB0507.htm
  • IMPACT TO BUFFALO/OUR WILDLIFE: HB 507 is a convoluted attempt to change the legal classification of a native species, the wild buffalo, under MCA 81-1-101, Montana’s statute classifying domestic or feral bison as livestock. HB 507 attempts to place Yellowstone's migratory buffalo population under the jurisdiction of Montana's statewide bison reintroduction plan (MCA 87-1-216) and its extensive and costly provisions requiring the wild species to be managed as confined livestock. HB 507 also requires Montana to develop a plan before any wild buffalo “may be released, transplanted, or allowed onto private or public land in Montana.” HB 507 further dictates that Montana may not “allow wild buffalo” on “any public or private land in Montana that is not in an area contiguous with the boundaries of Yellowstone national park designated by the department and the department of livestock as year-round habitat for wild buffalo or wild bison.” Under HB 507, this yet-to-be-declared “designation of year-round habitat by the departments may not be for longer than for a 4-year period and may not extend past the topographical boundaries of Gardiner basin and Hebgen Lake basin."HB 507 also repeals fines and penalties for Montana's prohibition on intentionally feeding wildlife “in a manner that results in artificial concentration of game animals that may potentially contribute to the transmission of disease." We support repealing MCA 81-2-121 provided Montana’s prohibition on intentionally feeding wildlife is embodied in another statute.

HB 610 "AN ACT GENERALLY REVISING MANAGEMENT OF WILD BUFFALO AND WILD BISON; APPLYING LIVESTOCK LAWS TO CERTAIN WILD BUFFALO AND WILD BISON; RESTRICTING WHERE WILD BUFFALO AND WILD BISON MAY BE RELEASED OR TRANSPLANTED; GRANTING RULEMAKING AUTHORITY; PROVIDING AN APPROPRIATION; AMENDING SECTIONS 81-1-101, 81-2-120, 81-3-201, 81-4-602, 81-4-603, 81-5-101, 81-5-104, 87-1-216, 87-1-271, 87-1-304, 87-2-101, 87-2-701, 87-2-702, 87-2-730, 87-2-731, 87-6-101, AND 87-6-906, MCA; REPEALING SECTION 81-2-121, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE."

  • SPONSOR: Rep. Bill Harris
  • STATUS: VICTORY FOR BUFFALO - OUR WILDLIFE! HB 610 was tabled in House Agriculture Committee 03/22/13.
  • BILL TEXT: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/lchtml/LC0960.htm
  • IMPACT TO BUFFALO/OUR WILDLIFE: HB 610 attempts to strip the legal classification of a native species, the wild buffalo, to that of domestic or feral livestock. Migratory buffalo "outside of Yellowstone National Park" would be under the jurisdiction of Montana's statewide bison reintroduction plan (MCA 87-1-216) and its extensive and costly provisions requiring the wild species to be confined as livestock. Montana may not release, transplant, or allow wild buffalo on "any private or public land in Montana that is not in an area contiguous with the boundaries of Yellowstone national park designated by the department and the department of livestock as habitat that can accommodate the migration of wild buffalo." Under HB 610, this yet-to-be-declared designation of habitat "may not extend past the topographical boundaries of Gardiner basin and Hebgen Lake basin." HB 610 also repeals fines and penalties for Montana's prohibition on intentionally feeding wildlife “in a manner that results in artificial concentration of game animals that may potentially contribute to the transmission of disease." We support repealing MCA 81-2-121 provided Montana’s prohibition on intentionally feeding wildlife is embodied in another statute.

LC 1827 "AN ACT PROHIBITING THE DEPARTMENT OF FISH, WILDLIFE, AND PARKS FROM EXPENDING ANY FUNDS ON THE RELOCATION OR TRANSPLANTATION OF WILD BUFFALO OR BISON ON THE SPOTTED DOG WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA; AMENDING SECTIONS 87-1-201 AND 87-1-216, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE.

  • BILL TEXT: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/LcHtml/LC1827.htm
  • SPONSOR: Sen. Gene Vuckovich
  • STATUS: DRAFT CANCELED 2/20/13
  • IMPACT TO BUFFALO/OUR WILDLIFE: LC 1827 would prohibit Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks from transplanting wild buffalo on the Spotted Dog Wildlife Management Area http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/wma/siteDetail.html?id=15616751. On its web site, Montana FWP claims Wildlife Management Areas are "managed with wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation as the foremost concern" to "protect important wildlife habitat that might otherwise disappear from the Montana landscape." Fish, Wildlife & Parks has already analyzed and rejected interim translocation of quarantined bison from the Yellowstone population on several Wildlife Management Areas including the 37,877 acre Spotted Dog. (FWP Commission, PDF 61kb) This bill would make Fish, Wildlife & Park's decision to exclude introducing buffalo from a Wildlife Management Area state law.

LC 1946 Revise laws related to bison

Please get involved and spread the word to save America's last wild buffalo herd!

SB 143 "AN ACT REVISING BISON MANAGEMENT LAWS; ESTABLISHING A YEAR-ROUND HUNTING SEASON; INCREASING THE NUMBER OF AVAILABLE LICENSES; PROHIBITING THE TRANSFER, RELOCATION, OR TRANSPLANTATION OF WILD BUFFALO WITH CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS; GRANTING RULEMAKING AUTHORITY; AND AMENDING SECTIONS 81-2-120, 81-2-121, 87-1-216, 87-1-301, 87-1-304, 87-2-506, 87-2-701, 87-2-702, 87-2-730, 87-2-731, AND 87-6-304, MCA."

  • HEARING RECORDING: http://montanalegislature.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=53&clip_id=1438
  • BFC TESTIMONY: (PDF 87 kb, PDF 67 kb)
  • BILL TEXT: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billhtml/SB0143.htm
  • SPONSOR: Sen. John Brenden
  • STATUS: VICTORY FOR BUFFALO-OUR WILDLIFE! The House voted 50 YEAS, 50 NAYS to defeat SB 143.
  • FISCAL NOTE: (PDF, 66 kb)
  • IMPACT TO BUFFALO/OUR WILDLIFE: SB 143 takes discretionary authority in MCA 81-2-120 and makes it mandatory for the Dept. of Livestock to immediately kill, capture, harass, quarantine and trap for slaughter all buffalo migrating into Montana. The draft bill kills Montana's statewide bison management plan (MCA 87-1-216) by prohibiting any bison from being translocated except to the National Bison Range in Moiese. The draft bill establishes a buffalo hunt "statewide and at any time of the year" for people 12 years of age or older. It also repeals the prohibition on state officials directing hunters to the actual physical locations of buffalo to be hunted.

SB 341 "AN ACT ESTABLISHING CRITERIA FOR THE TRANSPLANTATION, INTRODUCTION, OR AUGMENTATION OF CERTAIN WILDLIFE SPECIES; PROVIDING FOR A PUBLIC SCOPING PROCESS; PROVIDING RULEMAKING AUTHORITY; AMENDING SECTIONS 87-5-702, 87-5-703, 87-5-704, 87-5-713, AND 87-5-716, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN IMMEDIATE EFFECTIVE DATE."

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