HAVRE, Mont. (AP) -- A judge says Montana wildlife officials did not knowingly violate his order barring bison relocations.
But District Judge John McKeon said Friday an outside judge will be appointed to decide whether Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials committed a lesser infraction by moving four bison the day McKeon signed the order in March.
That month, FWP shipped about 60 bison from a government facility outside Yellowstone National Park to the Fort Peck reservation.
Neighboring ranchers filed a lawsuit in protest, and McKeon issued a restraining order. Later that day, FWP officials shipped four more bison.
The Havre Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/QqzRGI ) ranchers' attorney Cory Swanson unsuccessfully argued the agency was guilty of the more serious charge of direct contempt because he says officials knew they weren't allowed to move the bison.
Information from: Havre Daily News, http://www.havredailynews.com
Copyright 2012 The AP.