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Yellowstone Announces Plans for Bison Cull

Travis Smola

Plans have been released to help reduce the park’s population of bison next month in large bison cull.

Yellowstone announced Tuesday a plan to cull between 600 and 900 animals in an effort to reduce the population of bison within the first national park using a planned bison cull.

The park said in a press release the main reason for the cull is simply because the park’s population of approximately 4,900 bison is too high. “Because the Yellowstone bison population has high reproductive and survival rates, it will become necessary to cull 600-900 animals to offset the population increase expected this year,” the press release states.

The news comes a little more than ten days after Montana’s governor announced animals would be allowed to leave the park and graze in a 400-square-mile area. The news was met with much controversy by ranchers who are concerned about bison bringing in the brucellosis disease.

The release also acknowledged how brucellosis is a concern outside the park’s borders. In fact, the disease is the main reason bison can’t simply be relocated to other areas. State and federal laws prohibit moving wild bison unless it is to research or meat processing facilities.

“Most people are uncomfortable with the practice of culling bison, including the National Park Service,” Yellowstone Park Superintendent Dan Wenk said in the release. “The park would gladly reduce the frequency and magnitude of these operations if migrating bison had access to more habitat outside the park or there was a way to transfer live bison elsewhere.”

The park is also looking at possibly developing quarantine facilities to help combat this problem. Such facilities would allow live animals that test negative for the disease to be transferred to other areas or used for food.

Currently however, the plan for the cull is to have public and tribal hunting for bison in areas outside the park. The animals will also be captured and transferred to Native American tribes for use of meat and hides. The capture operations are slated to begin around February 15 and continue through March 31.

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Yellowstone Announces Plans for Bison Cull