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Badlands National Park bison plan questioned

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A proposal to expand bison grazing in Badlands National Park in southwestern South Dakota is being questioned by some neighboring cattle ranchers who fear it could harm their operations.

The park's bison herd, which has been confined to a 100-square-mile area for the past 50 years, has grown to about 1,000 animals, according to National Park Service wildlife biologist Eddie Childers. The park wants to expand grazing to other areas in the national park that spreads out over nearly 400 square miles.

Doing so would give visitors a better opportunity to see the animals and also help improve the park's natural resources, said Childers and Park Service resource manager Greg Schroeder.

Some area cattle ranchers say the park already can't properly manage and contain its bison, some of which damage fences and end up on their private properties.

"I'd like to see the federal government manage what they have already, instead of trying to expand," said Marvin Jobgen, of Scenic. "I already end up with buffalo coming out of the park on my land. I don't know what I'll have if they expand."

About two dozen people attended a public meeting on the proposal Tuesday night in Rapid City. Park officials plan to gather more comments before making a decision.

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