By MATTHEW BROWN

Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- The head of Montana's wildlife agency has signed off on a plan to send 74 bison from Yellowstone National Park to billionaire Ted Turner's private ranch.

Fourteen more would be shipped to a state park in Wyoming.

The bison have been held in a federal quarantine for the last several years to make sure they don't have the animal disease brucellosis.

Officials hope to use the bison to establish new herds on public lands. Ken McDonald with Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks said Wednesday they could be moved by late February.

After other offers to take the bison fell through, Turner offered to hold them for five years, the duration of the quarantine program.

In return, he wants 90 percent of their offspring -- drawing the ire of conservationists who see the move as privatizing Montana's wildlife.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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