Park officials defend bison numbers

[Monday April 28, 2008] Facing a rising uproar over the slaughter of 1700 Yellowstone Park bison this winter – on top of a winter kill of at least 700 – Yellowstone Park officials and their partners in the Interagency Bison Management Plan have stopped the slaughter of bison (with the exception of “some adult bulls”) that are caught heading outside the park boundaries. The official position, according to spokesman Al Nash, is “Our job is to maintain a wild bison population, and we won’t take any action that endangers the population as a whole.”

So far about half of the Yellowstone herd has been killed or died, with remaining numbers estimated beween 2000 and 2300. The biggest bone of contention, and the most poorly documented, is just what constitutes an appropriate herd size. Although a few scientific papers on the subject exist, they rarely receive public visibility, which means that most arguments are conducted in a relatively factless environment. Not that the science on this issue is conclusive, obviously, or there wouldn’t be so much contention.

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