Yellowstone Proposes Culling 1,000 Bison

Officials seek to curb annual migration into Montana.

Yellowstone National Park officials will meet today with representatives from state, federal agencies and Native American tribes to discuss the proposed killing of 1,000 wild bison this winter.

Yellowstone has one of the largest wild bison herds in the world, but efforts to significantly reduce their numbers haven’t been effective. Attempts to relocate them have also seen minimal success.

This summer, around 5,000 bison were in the park, but a brutal winter could drive thousands of them into southwestern Montana. Removing 1,000 of them would mark the largest reduction since winter 2007-2008, when 1,600 were killed.

Park officials say killing the bison—mainly calves and females—would curb their annual migration into Montana and reduce their reproductive rate. The annual culling, although controversial, is mainly in place to lessen the spread of disease.

“Until there’s more room for bison to range beyond park boundary, we’re going to have to rely on larger numbers of bison being sent to slaughter,” said Stephanie Adams of the National Parks Conservation Association

Yellowstone spokeswoman Sandy Snell-Dobert said the land outside the park just wouldn’t be able to support the bison.

“If there was more tolerance north of the park in Montana for wildlife, particularly bison as well as other wildlife, to travel outside the park boundaries, it wouldn’t be an issue,” she said.

It’s estimated that hunters will kill around 300 bison this season, and others would be captured for slaughter or research.