Officials from Yellowstone Park in Montana are considering a hunt to cull nearly 1,000 bison from the national park this winter.
The proposed hunt would cull mostly calves and cows from the over 5,000 that live in the park. Hunters, including Native American tribes with treaty rights in place, are projected to take at least the first 300 this coming winter.
In 2000, the state of Montana and the U.S. federal government reached an agreement on a plan that would prevent the disease brucellosis from spreading to livestock from bison.
The plan calls on the National Park Service to schedule a meeting with officials of Native American Tribes, state, and federal agencies to decide on a course of action.
Yellowstone National Park, which rests in Wyoming and parts of Montana, has one of the world’s largest populations of bison. Since the 1980s, hunters have taken more than 1,900 of the animals despite falling short of quotas.
In 2014, park officials slated 900 bison for removal, but only 737 were taken. “They are a hardy species,” said Stephanie Adams of the National Parks Conservation Association.
Despite the aggressive management effort, Yellowstone’s bison herd remains at near-record levels. The wild herd has to migrate and ultimately runs into trouble, especially in Montana, with ranchers unwilling to share grazing space for fear of disease and competition.
Bison, which had little or no natural enemies in North America, once numbered on the order of 30 to 60 million animals.
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