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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Board Of Livestock Seeks Clarification On Montana's Bison Laws

Bison at the National Bison Range.
Montana Board of Livestock members voted to ask Attorney General Tim Fox to clarify state bison laws.

The Montana Board of Livestock is asking Montana attorney general Tim Fox to clarify the state’s laws pertaining to bison.

At today’s board of livestock meeting in Helena, members voted unanimously to ask the Attorney General to clarify bison laws in Montana.

Board Vice Chair John Scully says at least three different parts of the Montana code mention bison.

"Within those three statutes, I believe there is a lack of clarity as to what it is the Department of Livestock is required to do."

One of the laws in question gives the Department of Livestock jurisdiction to manage wild bison for disease control. That law has long upset people who want to see bison managed as wildlife, not livestock.

State Veterinarian Martin Zaluski says the law is clear on that point.

"Our authority to manage bison for disease control remains unquestioned to the best of my knowledge."

But Zaluski said he still supports the board’s request to the attorney general, noting ambiguity around issues of property damage and public safety.

The request for clarification of the code comes less than two months after Governor Steve Bullock expanded the area in which the animals are allowed to roam outside of Yellowstone National Park.

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