BILLINGS – Yellowstone National Park is done capturing wild bison for the year after rounding up almost 550 of the burly animals and sending most to slaughter as part of a population control program, park officials said.
The bison culling is done under a legal agreement between federal and state officials that’s intended to prevent the spread of an animal disease.
It has drawn sharp criticism from wildlife advocates and some members of Congress, but officials insist it’s necessary to prevent cattle in the Yellowstone region from being infected with brucellosis, which can cause abortions in pregnant animals.
Officials had sought to reduce Yellowstone’s approximately 4,900 bison by 600 to 900 animals this year. At least 822 animals were removed through hunting and the capture program.
Before closing down Yellowstone’s capture pens along the park border near Gardiner in recent days, workers consigned 442 bison to slaughter, said Yellowstone bison biologist Chris Geremia. The meat was to be distributed to members of American Indian tribes,
Additionally, 105 captured animals were kept alive for potential enrollment in a quarantine program and future transfer to other sites. And more than 270 bison were killed by tribal hunters as they migrated into Montana, park officials said.
Members of some tribes were expected to continue hunting at least through the end of the month, Geremia said.
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