Gardiner, Mont. -- Yellowstone National Park has begun to round up and ship wild bison to slaughterhouses as they cross park boundaries in search of food at lower snow depths. Today, the National Park Service announced that round-ups have begun to take place and that bison will be transported to the Stephens Creek facility near the park’s north entrance and held until they are sent to slaughterhouses. This year’s killing program is slated to be the largest in seven years.
This capture and slaughter program, implemented by the National Park Service, is meant to keep the Yellowstone bison population below an arbitrary cap of 3,500, imposed decades ago as part of a settlement with the state of Montana for now discredited concerns over brucellosis and carrying capacity
Findings from a poll conducted in late December show that 67 percent of Montanans support relocating Yellowstone bison to start herds in appropriate locations across the state. The poll also finds that 68 percent of Montanans view bison as wildlife and 72 percent believe bison should be managed like the state’s other wildlife species.
Governor Bullock and the National Park Service need to move quickly to bring bison management into the 21st century. They need to expand the tolerance zone around Yellowstone, finish their environmental assessment of the quarantine and relocation program and kick start plans to update the 14-year old Interagency Bison Management Plan, the document that sets guidelines for managing Yellowstone’s wild bison.
Jonathan Proctor, Defenders of Wildlife’s Program Director for the Rockies and Plains issued the following statement:
“Bison are wildlife and should be managed as such. Wholesale slaughter of these genetically valuable animals simply because they leave Yellowstone National Park looking for food is archaic and driven by policies that treat them like livestock. Rather than working towards Montanans’ goal of wild bison restoration, this shipment to slaughter program kills the bison that could, instead, be the beginnings of new restoration herds.”
“We’ve proved that bison restoration from Yellowstone to Montana’s public and tribal lands is viable, making this shipment to slaughter wasteful, unacceptable and unnecessary. Recent polls also clearly show that the majority of Montanans want wild bison restoration. So, why are the National Park Service and Montana’s Department of Livestock continuing to implement this unnecessary and expensive slaughter program? It’s a waste of taxpayer funds, and a waste of prized Yellowstone wild bison.”