Montana court says transfer of Yellowstone bison legal, reviving conservation effort

The Montana Supreme Court has reversed a lower court ruling that blocked transfers of Yellowstone National Park bison as part of a government-sponsored conservation initiative.

Wednesday's ruling could revive stalled efforts to return the burly animals to parts of their range where they were wiped out decades ago.

Ranchers and property rights advocates had sued the state after Montana wildlife officials moved more than 60 bison to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation last year. They said the move was illegal under state law.

But six justices on the state's high court sided with the state and conservation groups that argued the law did not apply bison moved to tribal lands.

That could allow the relocations to resume, including the transfer of dozens of the animals to the Fort Belknap Reservation.