About 330,000 acres of year-round habitat for bison will be made available.
Less than a week after the end of a controversial bison cull and removal from the borders of Yellowstone National Park, the large mammals are catching a bit of a break.
It was announced earlier this week that Yellowstone bison will now have the opportunity to live on 330,000 acres of habitat year-round along the national park’s north and western borders. The announcement was made by the Interagency Bison Management Plan. (IBMP)
The topic of bison outside the borders of Yellowstone has been something of a hot topic in recent years for Wyoming, Idaho and Montana residents. Ranchers are the ones most concerned with this issue. Roughly half of all Yellowstone bison are affected with the disease brucellosis.
The ranchers are concerned the animals could spread the disease to domestic cattle. Concerns that officials are now saying ranchers don’t have to worry about as they’ve had success in keeping the disease from spreading from bison to cattle.
The other issue has been simply population control. With Yellowstone’s herd hovering around 5,000 animals, the IBMP has called for the population to be reduced. Animals were not taken directly out of the park, but ones that wandered over the park’s boundaries were captured and or culled.
Yellowstone announced this year’s plans to remove/cull of 600 to 900 animals back in January. The plan was met with an injunction intended to stop the cull, but it was turned down in February. The actual cull ended last week with 550 bison removed.
National Parks Conservation Association program manager Stephanie Adams is hoping the announcement of new habitat areas will lead to better management of the herd, although it is possible some culling may still be needed depending on how many wander outside of the park and stay there.
“Starting this spring, for the first time in generations, bison will be allowed to stay year-round on public lands adjacent to Yellowstone National Park,” Adams said. “We hope this decision drives further advancements for Yellowstone bison, which unfortunately continue to be shipped to slaughter when they leave the park in search of food in the winter.”
Bison will be able to start utilizing the new habitat sometime near the end of this month once an agreement is signed on it.