- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 9, 2015

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana officials say salt toxicity likely killed 19 bison that died in on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in July.

Dr. A. W. Layton of the Department of Livestock told a panel of lawmakers Wednesday that the diagnosis is based on the elimination of other causes. Anthrax, brucellosis and other diseases were ruled out soon after the bison died between July 2 and July 9.

Salt poisoning occurs in animals that consume too much salty water or are deprived of water and sweat for extended periods of time. Layton says a lack of hygienic water likely caused the bison deaths.

Fort Belknap Tribal Council President Mark Azure disagrees with the state’s assessment. He says the tribe provided plenty of well water to the herd of 56 animals.

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