For Immediate Release:
February 11, 2004:

Bozeman, Montana - Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public comment on issues to explore as it develops a hunting season proposal for bison that migrate out of Yellowstone National Park.

In 2003, Montana's Legislature passed SB395, which gave the FWP Commission authority to establish a bison hunt in Gallatin and Park counties. The commission recently directed FWP to prepare an environmental review for a proposed hunt, which must begin with a public effort to identify issues that may need to be addressed.

"As we move toward developing a bison hunting season, we want to invite Montanans and others to help us identify the benefits and challenges of such a proposal," said Kurt Alt, FWP's wildlife manager in Bozeman.

After public review of an environmental assessment, which will be developed over the coming spring and summer, a recommendation on whether or not to establish a hunt could come by fall, officials said.

The intent of the law authorizing the hunt is to allow Montana hunters to harvest wild, free-roaming bison under fair chase conditions and to reduce damage to private property by altering bison behavior and distribution.  Officials said the proposed hunt is not expected to regulate bison populations.  Population regulation will continue to be achieved through the Interagency Bison Management Plan.

FWP is seeking comment on all bison-related hunting issues, including:
… Bison population impacts
… Ethics of hunting bison
… Proposed brucellosis vaccination program on edibility of meat
… Hunting logistics, including boundaries, timing, weapons, and licensing
… Public safety
… Exposure of hunters to brucellosis
… Property damage by hunters and bison
… Impacts on other activities and species, including threatened and endangered species and activities described in the Interagency Bison Management Plan
… Social, economic, and environmental impacts near Yellowstone National Park