Wayne Phillips, district judge in Billings, Montana, to decide on blocking free-roaming bison outside Yellowstone National Park

4:36 PM, Nov 5, 2012   |    comments
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BILLINGS, Mont (AP) - A decision to allow migrating bison to roam freely across 70,000 acres outside Yellowstone National Park goes before a Montana judge Monday.

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

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

But local officials and ranchers have sued to restore restrictions on the animals' movements.

They say bison threaten the safety of residents in the basin, and that brucellosis remains a real danger.

The plaintiffs want state District Judge Wayne Phillips to block bison from the basin.

State officials say the brucellosis threat has diminished because few cattle remain in the area.

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