Yellowstone Bison

300 Bison Hazed Back into Yellowstone — But Their Fate is Uncertain

The bison had moved nearly 10 miles during the night onto private and public land north of Corwin Springs on Saturday and Sunday and were hazed back into the Park. Upon released, they once again headed north, and upon discovery of their movements Monday morning the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) partners decided to haze them into the capture facility.

The plan now is to test the captured bison for brucellosis; those that test positive will be shipped to slaughter, and those testing negative will be released back into Yellowstone in the spring. (Usual clarification: there’s never been a documented case of bison transmitting brucellosis to cattle, but concerns about theoretical transmissions is causing the IBMP to prevent brucellosis-carrying bison from interacting with cattle outside the Park boundaries.) Meat from bison shipped to slaughter will be distributed to tribal groups and regional food banks.

Two issues pop up: a short-term solution and a long-term solution. Short term, the issue is how to keep bison in the Park and where to keep them should they wander; the IBMP press release says holding and slaughtering are not the preferred courses. Long term, a search is on for areas surrounding the park where Yellowstone bison can be relocated if captured.

These will be the first bison slaughered this winter, as opposed to the 3,900 bison slaughtered in winter 2009-2010. In addition, state-permitted and tribal hunters have taken approximately 90-110 bison this season.

The cooperating agencies operating under the IBMP are the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Montana Department of Livestock, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the InterTribal Buffalo Council, the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes, and the Nez Perce Tribe.

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