Yellowstone National Park managers are considering a plan
that would ship hundreds of bison to slaughter
if large numbers of the nation's last purebred herd migrate out of parkland and into Montana state lands in search of food.
Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said the park was preparing to capture any animals that cross into Montana, where they are not tolerated.
An estimated 4,600 bison now roam the park, far exceeding the target population of 3,000 to 3,500, he said.
Yellowstone biologists have determined that between 600 and 800 bison, also called buffalo,
must be culled each year over the next several years to reduce the herd, Nash said.
"In order for us to approach that population target,
we're going to seek opportunities to capture any animals that move outside the park's boundaries," he said,
adding that just over 100 bison have been removed so far this year through hunts in Montana.
The plan to cull wayward bison is refueling a decades-long debate over management of animals that wander during harsh winters from Yellowstone's snow-covered high country to seek forage in lower elevations in Montana.
Under the culling program, bison that migrate into Montana this winter would be captured and transferred
to Native American tribes that would ship them to slaughter, Nash said.
Last winter, bison didn't stray in large numbers from Yellowstone because of relatively mild conditions.
The winter of 2006 saw nearly 1,000 of the park's bison shipped to slaughter.
Let us do not allow this to happen ever again.