Much Blood Shed in Bison 'Killing Winter'

US - A record number of Bison have already been slaughtered during the 'killing Winter' in Yellowstone Park, Montana. As of this week, 1,100 bison from the park had either been killed or were corralled near Gardiner pending shipment to slaughter. The previous high bison kill was 1,084 in 1997.
calendar icon 20 March 2008
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According to the Billings Gazette, the season isn't yet over. Hundreds more bison are within an easy walk from the border. They could still fill up the capture corral and boost the season's slaughter count. Only 156 bison were taken in hunts outside the park conducted by the state of Montana or Indian tribes.

The Billings Gazette sums up the bottom line on bison, 'U.S. taxpayers are paying about $3 million annually to eliminate virtually every one that approaches the park boundary'.

Last July, Montana officials announced a tentative deal to allow a limited number of bison to roam a way up the Yellowstone River corridor from the park to Yankee Jim Canyon. The deal negotiated by the state of Montana and the Royal Teton Ranch would allow a buyout of grazing rights so no cattle would be in the area. However, the deal carries a $2.8 million price tag. Some would be covered with private donations, but $1.5 million in federal funding was sought.

Asked about the deal last week, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said it's still on the table, but lacks federal funding.

Although the Schweitzer administration took the lead in negotiating to create this tolerance zone for bison away from cattle, the idea was already a step in the Interagency Bison Management Plan. It's a complicated step. The plan calls for up to 25 bison that test negative for exposure to brucellosis to be allowed to go down the river on the west side as far as Yankee Jim Canyon in the first year. These bison would have to be captured and tested before they were allowed to roam. And if they moved as far north as Yankee Jim, they would be held in another capture facility. The expectation is that some bison would graze outside the park for a time and then return to the park as the high country greens up. The plan provides for gradually increasing the number of animals allowed to roam down the river to 100.

  • View the BillingsGazette story by clicking here.
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