Yellowstone bison might be facing an inevitable death as officials from Yellowstone National Park propose to kill about 1,000 of them this winter.
Fox News reports that a proposal to kill the large animals would mostly involve the calves and females as park officials aim to reduce the animals’ annual migration into Montana.
The officials are meeting with with representatives of American Indian tribes, the state, and other federal agencies to decide on the outlined plan Thursday.
This hot button issue revolving around the slaughter of Yellowstone bison has to do with “continuation of a controversial 2000 agreement between Montana and the federal government that was meant to prevent the spread of the disease brucellosis from bison to livestock.”
An estimated 5,000 bison were in the park this summer, and with a harsh winter predicted, thousands will migrate into areas of southwestern Montana. 300 bison will be killed by hunters, which includes tribes with treaty rights in the Yellowstone area. Others will be hunted for research.
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Yellowstone spokeswoman Sandy Snell-Dobert says the National Park Service “has to do this,” citing a legal agreement. She says there wouldn’t be an issue if more tolerance for wildlife in the north park region of Montana existed for animals venturing outside park boundaries.
One of the largest bison herds in the world remains in Yellowstone. Over 6,300 have faced slaughter since the 1980s, with almost 1,900 killed by hunters. It hasn’t slowed down the herds’ record-level numbers. Officials removed 737 bison, which was below their target of up to 900.
The 2015 proposal to kill 1,000 Yellowstone bison falls squarely on eliminating the calves and females in an effort to reduce reproduction rates.
Stephanie Adams with the National Parks Conservation Association explains that bison are a “hardy species.” There’s a troublesome issue with there not being enough for the animals to roam beyond park boundary. Having them slaughtered is the only answer, Adams says.
Relocating Yellowstone bison herds to other areas have done very little in being a solution. Ranchers and landowners have worried about disease and competition with livestock animals for grazing space.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock proposed in 2014 to allow bison to roam year-round in west Yellowstone, which was contingent on the population dropping to less than 3,500 bison. According to spokesman Wessler, there’s yet to see a finalized decision in this.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that bison once roamed most of North American with a population of 30 to 60 million. It wasn’t until commercial hunting that bison were nearly extinct after the West was settled. In 1884, only 325 were in the United States.
Yahoo News reports that brucellosis is a disease that can cause pregnant cows and other animals to miscarry their young.
Montana state veterinarian Marty Zaluski it’s hard to know exacty how many bison will migrate into the Montana region where they’ll be targeted.
“You can’t predict how many bison will go into the trap,” Zaluski said. “Nature has a way of defying your best expectations.”
Jimmy St. Goddard, a spiritual leader of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana, says that officials considering such a proposal is a reminder of the “painful chapter of American history” in which extermination campaigns in the U.S. pushed the buffalo so close to extinction. He views the proposal of killing so many of the beasts this winter as an unfortunate one.
“Killing these buffalo is shameful,” Goddard says.
[Photo by Robert Graves, File/AP Photo]