Bison to be trucked into Yellowstone
Vail, CO Colorado
HELENA, Mont. ” State and federal officials were slated to begin rounding up a group of about 50 renegade bison near West Yellowstone Friday and ship them to a Yellowstone National Park corral north of Gardiner.
The bison are part of a herd hazed from West Yellowstone back into the park last week. The herd, which numbers about 300, was nearly sent to slaughter until the state reached an agreement with the National Park Service to truck them into the park if they resisted the latest hazing efforts.
Department of Livestock officials did not immediately return phone calls Friday morning about whether the trucking operation had started.
Dan Brister, spokesman for the Buffalo Field Campaign, said staffers in the park had seen a “convoy” of trucks and horse trailers headed toward the bison herd after officials met at park headquarters Friday morning. The group advocates for a free-roaming wild bison herd.
“Capturing and shipping bison to where we think they should be is really not the answer,” Brister said. “While it’s better than slaughtering all of the bison, the lesser of two evils is still an evil.”
State and federal officials planned to haze the cows, calves and bulls into a temporary trap near the West Yellowstone airport and truck them to the park’s Stephens Creek holding facility, park spokesman Al Nash said.
The bison will be fed, watered and held there for a “short period” before being released into the park’s north end, he said.
Bulls in the herd might be killed, and their meat donated to American Indian tribes, because the Park Service facility “can’t handle bull bison,” according to a Department of Livestock statement released late Thursday.
Brister said his group was unaware of the possible slaughter, or any limitations of the Stephens Creek facility.
Ranchers weren’t entirely pleased with the strategy worked out by Gov. Brian Schweitzer and the Park Service either.
Many feel the state has been lackadaisical in enforcing the interagency bison management agreement that calls for the animals to be back in Yellowstone by mid-May to make sure they don’t commingle with cows being put on summer pastures.
Others say the slaughter of excess bison that leave the park is a needed tool to manage the size of a growing Yellowstone herd.
Tensions are heightened after brucellosis was found in a herd of cattle in the state last month. Another case would cost the state its brucellosis-free status, requiring more testing of cattle for the disease, which causes cows to abort. It could also lead to restrictions on out-of-state transport of cattle.
Bison and other Yellowstone wildlife can carry the disease.
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