The shipment of bison from Stephens Creek Bison Capture Facility began today.
According to a Yellowstone press release, 400-plus bison will depart Stephens Creek over the coming weeks to slaughterhouses across the region. Operations are expected to continue until March.
We previously reported that Montana Governor Steve Bullock had halted the slaughter of Yellowstone bison temporarily when he learned 40 bison originally put aside for the Fort Peck Indian Reservation would be slaughtered to make room for more bison. The 40 bison had been held at Stephens Creek since last year, undergoing tests to ensure they tested negative for brucellosis.
Last week, we reported that state and federal officials had reached a compromise regarding the exchange: 25 bison bulls would be moved to a U.S. Department of Agriculture corral in Corwin Springs for further quarantine before being shipped to Fort Peck. The remaining bison (15 females) would be slaughtered.
According to the release, these 15 bison were shipped out today. Native American tribal partners under the Interagency Bison Management Plan will distribute the meat and hides to tribe members.
According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Fort Peck Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure said officials “slapped the Fort Peck tribes in the face” with this agreement. Indeed, the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes have been waiting patiently to populate their Fort Peck quarantine facility, which has a capacity of 300 animals, “in hopes of using it to establish new herds across the U.S. with Yellowstone’s genetically-pure bison.”
Under this year’s IBMP plan, partner agencies and tribes are hoping to cull 900 to 1,300 bison from the Yellowstone herd. The IBMP, established in 2000, was established to keep Yellowstone’s bison population around 3,000. At last count, it was an estimated 5,500 strong—before the hunting and slaughter season started.
According to a Yellowstone press release, tribal hunters have taken over 300 bison outside Yellowstone and “continue to actively hunt.”
Complete information and statistics on the IBMP’s activities can be found through their online Document Library.