Officials Plan on Slaughtering up to 900 Yellowstone Bison This Winter
Between 600 and 900 bison from Yellowstone National Park have just been approved for slaughter or removal from the land by different government agencies. The most since 2008, this number of bison represents more than 18 percent of the current population. Yellowstone superintendent Dan Wenk stated he was uncomfortable with the decision and open to alternatives, such as offering the animals a different place to roam, yet it is unclear as to whether this will become a reality.
The decision comes from fear of bison carrying the disease brucellosis and has led to the deaths of about 8,200 bison since the 1980s. Ranchers fear the animals will carry the disease from the park into their Montana cattle as the bison migrate over the winter, as well as steal away grazing animals from their – quite literal – cash cows. The Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department says that finding alternative places to graze and roam is missing the point, as their mission is to reduce the population.
Yellowstone’s herds of bison are considered genetically pure, making them more susceptible to be wiped out due to disease. Although about half of the park’s bison test positive for brucellosis exposure, there have been no transmissions from bison to cattle. This does not stop the regular occurrence of bisons being hunted or captured for slaughter or research. Last yaer, 737 bison were removed: 511 sent to slaughter or shot, 219 hunted, and 7 taken to a government research program.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock approved a plan for bison to roam year-round on mostly public lands just west of the park, yet the plan must be agreed upon by the park, other federal agencies, and neighboring American Indian tribes before becoming a reality.
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