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Quarantined bison from Yellowstone NP could be released to tribes under proposed bills

When bison roam beyond Yellowstone National Park’s northern boundary around this time of year in a search of forage, one of four fates await them: They’ll be hazed back into the park, harvested by hunters, shipped to slaughter or quarantined for months or even years of brucellosis testing. For years, this has been their lot, per a complex set of agreements between the Montana Department of Livestock, the National Park Service, the InterTribal Buffalo Council and the United States Department of Agriculture designed to keep the park’s bison population below an agreed-upon number and minimize the risk of brucellosis spread from bison to livestock.

Bison that go into quarantine are held in a kind of limbo while state and federal agencies conduct several rounds of testing to determine which animals have contracted brucellosis. Space is tight at the two quarantine facilities outside of the park — combined, they can accommodate about 104 animals — so that’s where the bottleneck develops.

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