Posted: Jan 2, 2013 3:48 PM by Adam Bell
Updated: Jan 2, 2013 3:54 PM
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK - The Yellowstone National Park bison herd has grown to an estimated 4,200, raising concerns about how to manage the animal.
Yellowstone National Park is looking at several options to reduce the bison population, including the possibility of slaughtering several hundred, in order to cut the number inside the park down to its target number.
"The Interagency Bison Management Plan partners created a target population of 3,000 about a dozen years ago," says park spokesperson Al Nash.
With the latest estimate of 4,200 bison in the park, the challenge is to find ways to manage these growing numbers. Darrel Geist with the Buffalo Field Campaign, believes this target number set by the IBMP is too low.
"This target population of 3,000, is not a scientific number. Generally speaking, 5,000 mature adults are needed to sustain a viable population over the long term," says Geist.
Several options in reducing the bison population have been considered, including hunting. Through Dec. 31, around 50 bison have been killed in Montana, the majority killed by tribal members. These limited numbers have led the park to consider other options, including the possibility of slaughtering them.
"Choosing the park, as a slaughter ground for bison, that is what is proposed to do this winter season. Several hundred buffalo captured purposefully, to slaughter," said Geist.
Nash responded, saying, "We have no intentions of rounding up bison in the park and sending them to slaughter."
Nash also added that if, and he emphasized the "if," the bison were to wander outside the northern boundary of the park, and repeated attempts to haze them back inside the park's boundary were unsuccessful, the park could move those bison into a holding facility.
However, with a Governor Executive Order still in effect, stopping the transport of bison for any reason in Montana, the park would be unable to ship these bison out for slaughter.