Free-roaming bison plan in judge's hands

Nov 6, 2012 The Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. -- A legal dispute over whether migrating bison can roam freely across 70,000 acres outside Yellowstone National Park is before a Montana judge after attorneys offered closing arguments in the case Monday.

State officials opened the Gardiner Basin just north of the park to migrating bison last year after they had been barred for decades.

It was an attempt to curb periodic slaughters that have killed thousands of the animals to prevent the spread of the disease brucellosis to cattle.

But county officials and ranchers who live outside the park want state District Judge Wayne Phillips to restore restrictions on the animals' movements.

They say the bison threaten the safety of residents in the basin and could spread brucellosis to livestock.

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