The wild bison that roam inside and outside the borders of Yellowstone National Park aren't necessarily native to this particular part of the American west.
An advocate for the bison, who was at Yellowstone Monday to protest the government-sponsored slaughter of 900 animals, Mike Mease, said they "don't come from here. This is the last place they survived," he told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
The plight of America's bison is well-documented in our history. Over a few decades in the 1800s, tens of millions were slaughtered for their hides, fur, and to deprive Plains Indians of their food supply, the New York Times reported.
As many as 60 million are believed to have roamed the American west at one point, but by 1900, only 700 remained in private herds, about 23 at Yellowstone. For the past 100 years, Yellowstone has worked to protect them so the population could recover and today, 4,600 live there.
And apparently, that's far too many. A management plan, passed in 2000, requires that the population remain at 3,000. So on Monday, the annual slaughter of 900 of the iconic American animals began. According to Times reporter Christopher Ketchum, who has covered the annual cull for years, it's an attempt to pander to Montana ranchers.