BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana judge has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged the state's decision to let migrating bison  roam freely across 70,000 acres outside Yellowstone National Park. District Judge E. Wayne Phillips on Monday sided with state officials and conservation groups that have sought to ease restrictions on bison in Montana.

Park County and groups representing ranchers sued the state in 2011 to keep bison out of the Gardiner Basin north of the park. They say the animals are a threat to public safety and their presence increases the risk of disease transmissions to cattle. But Phillips says the plaintiffs' struggles with bison are an unavoidable consequence of living in Montana with its abundant wildlife. Thousands of bison flood out of Yellowstone during severe winters.