Posted: May 15, 2013 9:21 AM by Marnee Banks - MTN News
HELENA - Environmental groups are challenging the actions of state and federal officials as they began hazing bison back into Yellowstone National Park.
By herding them, the Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) reports it moved 200 bison on Monday and 55 on Tuesday. These are bison that have wandered out of the park boundary. Officials are using horseback riders, ATV drivers and helicopter pilots to conduct the hazing efforts.
The Alliance for the Wild Rockies filed an injunction in federal court on Tuesday asking a panel of judges to put a stop to the use of the helicopter.
Executive Director of the Alliance Mike Garrity says the flights interfere with the grizzly bear population.
"Grizzly bears flee in terror when there are low level helicopter flights and this is a critical time for grizzly bears because they have just come out of hibernation, they are very hungry, they need to eat a lot to survive," Garrity says.
State and federal agencies assert they are following the Interagency Bison Management Plan by using helicopters.
Yellowstone National Park spokesperson Al Nash says they try to use horseback riders when possible to avoid using the helicopter, but the goal is to make sure that the bison stay in the park.
The DOL says they plan on hazing 250 more bison on Wednesday.