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Court upholds Montana allowing bison to roam free outside Yellowstone

WILDLIFE — Montana's decision to let migrating bison roam freely across 70,000 acres outside Yellowstone National Park was upheld by a court ruling Monday that dismissed a pair of lawsuits filed by ranchers to challenge the policy.

The judge sided with state officials and conservation groups that have sought to ease restrictions on bison movements.

Thousands of bison flood out of Yellowstone during severe winters. In the past, the animals were subject to mass slaughters over fears they could spread the disease brucellosis to livestock.

The slaughters were blocked by former Gov. Brian Schweitzer. But when hundreds of bison were allowed to return to the Gardiner Basin, local officials said they posed a threat to safety and destroyed private property.

In his ruling, Phillips acknowledged the plaintiffs' struggles with bison, but said those were an unavoidable consequence of living in Montana with its abundant wildlife.

Recapping WSU’s Seattle experience


FROM SEATTLE — Washington State practices later this morning before boarding a bus and heading back to Pullman, though some players are dispersing from here for their Christmas break. We're not on break quite yet. Here are some links to fill your Saturday morning.

Tale of the tape: WSU 65, Buffalo 54


FROM SEATTLE — Not sure if Washington State has played two halves as differently as it did in tonight's 65-54 win over Buffalo at KeyArena. But when the result is a victory, nobody really cares. We recap the good, the bad and the ugly in our tale of the tape. Read on.

Tourist gored by Yellowstone bison

WILDLIFE ENCOUNTERS — A Massachusetts man is recovering in an Idaho Falls hospital following surgery for injuries he received after being gored by a bull bison near Norris Campground on Saturday in Yellowstone National Park.

Park authorities did not have the man’s name, and his age was listed as in the mid-50s, according to the report by the Billings Gazette.

Though not taunting the animal, the tourist let the bison approach to within a few feet of where he was sitting and refused to move away, according to a park statement.

The bull gored the man, tossing him nearly 10 feet into the air, before pinning him to the ground.

The victim suffered a broken collarbone, shoulder blade and several ribs and a groin injury.

Park rules require that visitors stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves at all times, and at least 25 yards away from all other animals including elk and bison.

If an animal approaches, it is the person’s responsibility to move a safe distance away.

Maybe the park rangers who made that rule knew what they were talking about.

Montana discusses future of free-roaming bison

WILDLIFE – Planning for long-term management of bison at a wildlife species – which may include hunting down the road — will kick off Monday, May 14, in Missoula with a public meeting organized by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The meeting is set for 6 p.m at the Holiday Inn, Downtown at the Park, 200 S. Pattee.

Putting bison back on more of the Montana landscape would restore the last existing link to the wildlife mix at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

But landowners in particular are wary.

Issues already identified include, the risk of bison spreading disease to domestic livestock, competition between bison and other wildlife, competition between bison and livestock for rangeland, damage to fencing, public safety, and the legal classification and status of bison in Montana.

Info: fwp.mt.gov. Under 'For Fish & Wildlife Information' choose "Bison Background."

INW: Where The Buffalo Roam

A group of nearly 20 bison run into the corral during the annual roundup at the National Bison Range Tuesday, near Moiese, Mont. Nearly 400 bison were brought in for inspection on Monday and Tuesday. According the Outdoor Recreation Planner for the National Bison Range Complex Pat Jamieson last year 1100 teachers and students came out to view the roundup. Story here. (AP Photo/Daily Inter Lake, Brenda Ahearn)

If I Could Take You to Yellowstone

    If I could take you to Yellowstone National Park, I would take you there on a sweet September morning. So early in the morning, the sky above the horizon was still a deep velvet blue and stars hadn’t yet faded and the moon still hung low on the horizon.
    I would drive you into the gates of the park just as the sun rises, when the mist is rising off the shaggy backs of great buffalo as they graze the vast grasslands framed by tall mountains. When the Mergansers are diving into the deep lake in search of breakfast. When the birds are beginning to sing, calling out to one another as they danced in the limbs of the tall pine trees. When the wolves are up and on the move, loping, striding, skimming the earth as they run. When the bears - already conscious of the shorter days and cooler nights and the long winter to come - are foraging for berries and the moose are running across the river, supporting great antlers, effortlessly, nobly, breathing puffs of steam as they stop to sniff the air.
    If I could take you to Yellowstone I would keep you there for days. We would see it all together, watching an ancient and foreign landscape in every direction. Dwarfed by the sheer magnitude of everything around us.
    We would paddle the perimeter of the lake at mid-day, watching the clouds sweep across the sky, tangling on the tall peaks before they moved on. We would point to boiling pools in the bitter white soil, sulfurous steam curling into amorphous shapes.
    I would stand with you at the Yellowstone Grand Canyon, high above an osprey’s nest, and I would hold your hand as we gazed down at the giant, jagged scar of the rift.
    If I could take you to Yellowstone, we would follow the trail down to the waterfall. To the place where the tranquil river turns into wild water and rushes over the rocks, falling, tumbling throwing up rainbows as it sweeps away down stream.
    We would look out over Artist Point, at the bands of mineral-painted soil lining the sandy walls of the rift. And the wind would tease us, tossing our hair, pulling at our clothing before moving on.
    If I could take you to Yellowstone we would gather with the crowd, the way the crowd has gathered for more than 100 years, and wait for the geyser. And we would clap and cheer when Old Faithful erupted, watching until the last arc of foam had fallen.
    If I could take you to Yellowstone, we would open our eyes each morning to a place that is like no other on earth. And at night, at the end of the long day, we would fall asleep to dreams of a wild and beautiful landscape.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com