A planned Yellowstone bison slaughter is on tap, as between 300 and 600 bison who leave Park boundaries are set to be shipped to slaughterhouses.
The resulting meat, heads and hides will be distributed to American Indian tribes.
Bison are protected as long as they stay within Yellowstone National Park boundaries. Once they leave the Park, they can be culled and removed by Park officials. However, bison have not been leaving Yellowstone National Park in large numbers this season, as opposed to recent years when some ranchers and residents decried the impact of bison on private property. This is happening despite an increase in the Yellowstone National Park bison population: there were an estimated 4,600 bison in Yellowstone as of this summer, a number that comes close to the 5,000 tallied in 2005. From the Billings Gazette:
We do have some agreements with tribal entities to take those animals this year,” said Al Nash, Yellowstone’s chief of public affairs. “But everything is very dependent on the bison migrating in significant numbers.”
So far, despite two stretches of bitterly cold weather that included a temperature of 35 below at Yellowstone’s West Thumb on Wednesday, large numbers of bison haven’t migrated out of the park….
The last count by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks put the number of bison outside the park’s northern boundary near Gardiner at 60 to 70, with most staying close to private property and away from hunters on nearby public land. Hunting is not allowed inside Yellowstone.
A Yellowstone bison slaughter is not unusual: last year one was planned and then scrapped after bison failed to migrate out of the Park.