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Environmental Group Seeks To Stop Practice Of Bison 'Hazing' With Helicopters

Aircraft Used To Herd Animals In Wild Areas

A practice knows as bison hazing used by the Montana Department of Livestock is the target of a renewed legal challenge from an environmental group called the Alliance for the Wild Rockies (AWR).

Bison hazing utilizes low-flying helicopters to help encourage the animals to return to areas like Yellowstone National Park when they stray out of protected areas. But the AWR says that the low-flying aircraft adversely affect other species like grizzly bears, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports that the group has filed several legal actions over the past few years in an effort to stop the practice. They had asked for a permanent injunction in U.S. District Court in 2011, but an accompanying restraining order was denied by Judge Charles C. Lovell. Last year, the judge granted a temporary injunction, with a duration of two weeks, just days after it was filed and an hour after oral arguments were presented. But in March, he dismissed the permanent injunction because he said AWR had filed its lawsuit too quickly. The challenged agency, in this case the Montana Department of Livestock, must be given 60 days notice before a suit can be filed. The judge also said that AWR had not been able to demonstrate that the helicopters actually caused harm to the bears.

AWR is appealing Lovell's decision, and the Buffalo Field Campaign says that the DOL aircraft have been active since last Monday around West Yellowstone rounding up and herding the animals back where they   belong.

FMI: http://liv.mt.gov, www.wildrockiesalliance.org

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