Wild Bison Herds in Circle, Montana?


This week the Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Department held two more public meetings on their discussion about the possibility of establishing a wild population of bison in Montana. 

About 85 people came to Tom Milesnick’s ranch at Belgrade on Tuesday, and about 65 more attended in Circle at the County Market meeting room, to hear Arnie Dood, Native Species Specialist – Bison Coordinator for the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department describe an idea to allow a wild population of bison to roam free across the state. 

Almost all in attendance were local landowners.  Most were extremely concerned to hear about the proposal and wanted to vent their opinion about the impact on property rights, public safety, and the financial effect on their livelihoods. 

A thirty-five year FWP employee from Bozeman, Dood has been charged to evaluate the possibility establishing a huntable population of wild bison somewhere in Montana.

With a show of hands it was obvious that there was not one person in the room who supported the idea of a wild bison herd.  And the biggest question from local residents was, given the potential problems and the cost of a bison herd ranging free on roads and private property,…Why the concept would even be considered? 

When asked how many bison would comprise a “huntable population” Dood said….

Dood said he was approached last August by the FWP Department to do an extensive evaluation of this idea.  Discussions have included FWP Director Joe Maurier, Fish & Wildlife Division Administrator David Risley, and Wildlife Bureau Chief Ken McDonald.  A proposal for this effort made by FWP Commissioner Ron Moody was approved by the Commission this past January.

Dood has recently visited bison herds in the Henry Mountains of Utah, and Prince Albert Park in Candada, but did know know what the cost has been to manage those herds.

Dood  plans to present a document on his findings by the end of this year, evaluating the opportunity to restore a huntable population of wild bison somewhere in Montana.

CLICK HERE to see what Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has posted on their website regarding the question: “What is the Future for Wild Bison in Montana?” 


submitted by Taylor Brown and Gary Housley

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