- Associated Press - Monday, April 14, 2014

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - The prospects for a state-wide bison conservation plan in Montana are uncertain after wildlife officials cancelled a public forum on the issue.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks spokesman Ron Aasheim said Monday that livestock interests and wildlife advocates had complained about the format of the forum scheduled for April 15 and 16 in Lewistown.

Aasheim says the agency decided the meeting would have been counterproductive. He says it’s now uncertain if the conservation plan can be completed by the end of 2015 as earlier anticipated.

Wildlife officials have struggled for years to reconcile bison restoration efforts with worries about disease and bison competing with livestock for grazing space.

Bison, or buffalo, once numbered the tens of millions in North America before overhunting drove them almost to extinction in the 1800s.

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