(ABC4) – The protection of bison in Yellowstone is one that has become controversial. While the recovery of bison numbers has grown exponentially, parks now must deal with a growing problem of limited habitat, illness, and public interference.
The current three main ways of handling the park’s bison population are:
Tribal hunts and state hunts outside Yellowstone’s boundary
Capture and transfer to Tribes for slaughter
Transfer to Tribes to start their own bison herds across the country
Currently the main contenders that are sent for slaughter are those who test positive for a disease called brucellosis. The disease can spread to other animals and humans that come in contact. Brucellosis has been eradicated in cattle herds across most of the United States. Bison and elk in the Yellowstone Ecosystem persist as one of the reservoirs of infection
Yellowstone is working to send more bison to other conservation areas rather than slaughter. In order for a bison to be transferred they must be certified negative for brucellosis. Unfortunately, the process for this certification takes multiple years.
Meanwhile, Bison will continue to populate at alarming rates and Yellowstone only has a limited amount of habitat for Bison to roam.
A proposal of 500-700 Bison were set to be killed for the 2020/2021 winter, but only a total of 187 were removed.
Meanwhile, a proposal to kill 600-900 bison is set for this year. Over the last 50 years the population has grown from 500 animals in 1970 to 5,000 today.
Since 2019, The Bison Conservation Transfer Program was set up as an alternative to sending bison to slaughter and instead send them to new areas on Native land.
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