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Interior Secretary Halts Bison Range Transfer Proposal

A sign at the National Bison Range in northwest Montana.
Josh Burnham
Montana Public Radio
Interior Secretary Halts Bison Range Transfer Proposal

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has halted a proposal to transfer the National Bison Range into tribal control.

In an email to the Missoulian, Secretary Zinke says he is committed to not selling or transferring public lands, but hopes the tribes will, "play a pivotal role in our discussions about the best path forward."

The move reverses a 2016 proposal from the Obama administration to ask Congress to hand management of the wildlife sanctuary to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The BIA would then transfer local control  to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Speaking with the Missoulian, tribal chairman Vernon Finley says the transfer is a restoration of reservation land, which is different than selling public land, and says the tribe will speak with the Interior Department about possible options moving forward.

In a press release, tribal chairman Vernon Finley says, "Our stewardship interests there remain, and I look forward to continued discussions with Secretary Zinke and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service regarding Tribal management."

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