Colorado bison herd is growing too fast, must be reduced

Texas Deer Association
By Bruce Finley | The Denver Post

Commerce City, Colo. • Three years after a former Colorado weapons and pesticides plant reopened as the nation’s largest urban wildlife preserve, bison are multiplying too fast.

There are 85 today, more than quadruple 2007’s number, threatening to degrade drought-prone prairie at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Federal biologists say they must cut the herd by 25 — and keep it at 60 until fenced habitat is expanded.

A roundup is planned for Dec. 17, and the biologists are looking for options short of slaughter, such as trucking the animals to other bison preserves.

The forced thinning reflects a growing challenge in restoring wild species as the U.S. population booms in the West: finding suitable open space. Bison once numbered 20 million and roamed North American grasslands before they were hunted to near extinction. Today, the federal government’s Bison Conservation Initiative aims for a wild population of fewer than 10,000 nationwide.

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