State officials have found a new location for the bison quarantine facility they want to build near Gardiner.

The new choice for the facility is on the Slip and Slide Ranch, a privately owned property near Corwin Springs.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has been studying the idea of a brucellosis quarantine facility for some time. It already has one facility on a former game farm at Corwin Springs, but needs more land to conduct the lengthy program.

It had originally proposed using state-owned land near Daily Lake, property that has been set aside for elk winter range.

The new property, just a couple miles north of the existing facility, offers several benefits, according to Keith Aune, FWP's supervisor of research and technical services.

Since it will occupy only about 60 acres, it won't raise issues about displacing elk, as at Daily Lake. It's closer to the existing facility and it keeps the animals in the program closer to Yellowstone National Park.

The owner of the new site has agreed to remove his cattle. He will be paid about $50,000 yearly for the lease.

FWP hopes to work out a way in which bison, after years of confinement and testing, could be shown to be brucellosis free. Then they could be released on appropriate tribal or other public lands.

FWP released an environmental assessment Monday, outlining the program.

It calls for capturing up to 200 yearling and calf bison that have tested negative for brucellosis in field tests.

However, those tests are not 100 percent accurate. Later, about half of the bison would be slaughtered and their tissues would be tested to learn more about the accuracy of the field tests.

The remaining animals would then be allowed to breed, and they and their young would be tested again.

It would take about four years to produce disease-free bison, FWP documents say.

Putting part of the facility on the Slip and Slide ranch would increase costs somewhat because of the lease payments, Aune said.

Overall, the project will cost about $2.2 million.

"It's not cheap to do these kinds of projects," Aune said.

Stout fences must be built, and the animals must be fed and tended.

Glenn Hockett, president of the Gallatin Wildlife Association, said Monday he opposes the quarantine proposal mostly because there is no guaranteed place for disease-free bison to go, and remain publicly owned wildlife when they get there.

"We would tolerate it if they'd show they've got a place" for the bison after the quarantine protocol is complete, he said.

The EA can be seen at FWP's Web site at www.fwp.mt.gov and clicking on Recent Public Notices icon.

There will be public meeting on the proposal Dec. 19 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the FWP building at 1400 S. 19th Avenue in Bozeman. Public comment will be accepted through Jan. 13, 2006.