Yellowstone To Propose Killing 1,000 Bison

The proposals would see mostly calves and females targeted to cut the reproductive rate of wild bison across the park.

12:47, UK,Thursday 19 November 2015

A herd of bison swim across the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, June 21, 2011. On average over 3,000 bison live in the park.

A herd of bison swims across the Yellowstone River

Yellowstone National Park is proposing to kill around 1,000 wild bison this winter – mostly calves and females – in an attempt to reduce the annual migration into Montana.

Park officials are set to meet representatives of American Indian tribes, the state and other federal agencies to decide on the plan.

The plan is a continuation of a controversial agreement made in 2000 between Montana and the federal government that was meant to prevent the spread of the disease brucellosis from bison to livestock.

Almost 5,000 bison roamed Yellowstone during the summer.

A wild bison rubs against a fire hydrant

A wild bison rubs up against a hydrant in Yellowstone park

Thousands could be driven into southwestern Montana if there is a harsh winter.

Hunters, including members of tribes with treaty rights in the Yellowstone area, are expected to kill more than 300 of the animals this winter.

Sandy Snell-Dobert, a spokeswoman for the park, said: “Through the legal agreement the National Park Service has to do this.

“If there was more tolerance north of the park in Montana for wildlife, particularly bison as well as other wildlife, to travel outside the park boundaries, it wouldn’t be an issue.”

The park is home to one of the largest wild bison herds in the world.

Since the 1980s, more than 6,300 have been slaughtered, and almost 1,900 killed by hunters.

This year’s proposal puts more emphasis on killing females and calves to reduce the population’s reproductive rate.

Stephanie Adams, of the National Parks Conservation Association, said: “Until there’s more room for bison to range beyond the park boundary, we’re going to have to rely on larger numbers of bison being sent to slaughter.”

The species, also known as buffalo, once numbered some 60 million animals, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Commercial hunting drove them to near extinction. By 1884, an estimated 325 remained in the US, the service added.

Last year, Montana Governor Steve Bullock proposed allowing bison to roam all year in an area west of Yellowstone if the population dropped below 3,500 animals.

There have been incidents where visitors to the park were gored or trampled by bison after posing for pictures next to the animals.