Administrators at Yellowstone National Park have announced a plan to kill as many as 600 bison this winter if harsh weather conditions inside the 2.2-million-acre park spur a large migration of the animals to lower elevations in Montana, where cattlemen fear that the animals will compete for grazing land with their own herds. The move is in line with a multi-year agreement signed between the state and federal governments back in 2000 with the goal of keeping the bison population at approximately 3,000 animals. It is currently estimated that there are now 4,600 living there.
The last major bison slaughter occurred in the winter of 2008, when 1,600 were killed. A controversial moratorium on the killing was later enacted by former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer to “give bison more room to roam outside the park,” but has proven unpopular with local ranchers.
In the meantime, 20 bison were handed over to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes, while 5 addition animals have been slated to be given to the United States Department of Agriculture for use in an experimental animal contraception program,” according to Yellowstone Park spokesman Al Nash.