Yellowstone bison death tally likely more than 570

Wildlife managers estimate more than 570 Yellowstone bison have been killed so far this winter between hunters and the annual ship to slaughter, according to state and federal bison management documents.

A Yellowstone National Park bison management report posted online Monday said 179 bison have been transferred to Native American tribes for slaughter and that 359 bison have been killed by hunters as of last Friday. A Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks report on hunt numbers compiled two days earlier showed a lower number of confirmed bison harvests, but said that officials believe the total harvest has likely surpassed 400.

The numbers show that bison managers have already surpassed 2016’s confirmed death tally of 534 and are inching toward their goal of removing 1,300 from the Yellowstone herd.

According to the report, another 321 bison were in the park’s Stephens Creek Capture Facility as of last Friday. Those are likely to be sent to slaughter. The park will also continue capturing more bison as they migrate out in search of forage. The park report said 472 bison were seen between the North Entrance Station and the trap last Monday.

Government officials try to reduce the Yellowstone herd each year because of a 2000 bison management plan that calls for a population of 3,000 bison in the region. About 5,500 live there now.

They go about reducing the population through shipping some bison to slaughter and public hunting. Some hunters are licensed through Native American tribes with treaty hunting rights outside the park and some are licensed through the state of Montana.

The state’s hunting season ended Wednesday. FWP’s report was compiled that morning, and it said state hunters had taken 55 of the bison so far. Hunters from Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have killed 180 bison, the most of any of the five tribes.

Bison that are sent to slaughter are consigned to Native American tribes or the Intertribal Buffalo Council before they leave the park’s capture facility. Tom McDonald, a wildlife manager with the CSKT, said the park was splitting shipments between the ITBC and CSKT as of last Friday, but he couldn’t give exact numbers for how many bison went to each.

The park is still holding 24 bull bison that are slated for a trip to U.S. Department of Agriculture corrals near Corwin Springs. The park originally wanted to send them to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation to establish a quarantine program there, but that plan was shelved because of state law requiring they be certified brucellosis free before leaving the Yellowstone region. After time in the corrals at Corwin Springs, those bison may still be sent to Fort Peck.

Yellowstone spokeswoman Linda Veress said Monday that the logistics of moving the bison to Corwin Springs hadn’t been worked out yet.


8 thoughts on “Yellowstone bison death tally likely more than 570

  1. Why can’t these bison be certified as brucellosis-free before going to Fort Peck? Apparently, a bill has been submitted to change this quirk in the law requiring that the bison be certified brucellosis-free. (I posted a link from Yellowstone Insider, but I thought the headline was misleading – “Montana Bill Would Let Bison With Brucellosis Leave Park”. Have bison ever had brucellosis to begin with? Why couldn’t the park wait until the law was changed/new law passed? Why do they have to be good soldiers ‘only following orders’?

    Lord, I rue the day that Europeans ever set foot here, and brought their diseases with them:

  2. This is why I am not concerned about immigration laws, when we have and still do treat native populations abysmally, even to this day! Very little is done by either party as we continually roll out the welcome mat for everybody else, and the last Administration’s Interior secretary has done some, but still inadequate. None have done anything to address this ridiculous hold that agriculture and ranching have over the country, just like the NRA. 😦

  3. Both the brucellosis argument and not enough room outside the Park are bogus and the number of bison that can be tolerated inside the Park argument is bogus. More can be tolerated inside and outside and relocated, Using the Brucellosis argument for failures to relocate bison elsewhere is bogus. I think what we have here is more management of wildlife by the good old boys of MT Dept. of Livestock and MT FWP, and ranchers resenting the grass bison eat, with the Park Service having to capitulate. What we have here is rancher continuing war on wildlife and their self-centered, power and control, entitlement, use of anger and fear to control, victmstance thinking. Cull, hunt, slaughter all the same. Hunting a bison would be like shooting a cow. And what agencies, department would “manage” this culling. “Manage”, now there is word with a new synonym: kill. This is another instance of political management of wildlife.

  4. Bison in Yellowstone total around 5500. Experts agree that the Park could sustain 6000, so the “need” to send more to slaughter (or indirectly or by “hunting”) is false. The Park has an agreement with Montana for the Dept. of Livestock (MT) to “manage” bison coming out of the Park for winter forage which results in the slaughter of hundreds each year. The states should not be managing wildlife like stock, not telling the Park how to manage wildlife. The issue is really about sharing the public land with the bison, and expecting the naturally wandering bison to return to the Park by May so that ranchers can move in and graze public land. The Governor’s recent year decision to allow bison west and north, 600 to 250 depending on the time of year, of the Park, was a giant step in the right direction in preserving the bison.
    Alternatives are to better manage bison-cattle interface on public, leased public, and private land outside the Park, to move more bison to other public land ranges, move more bison to Indian Reservations, where appropriate built bison resistant fences, more tolerance for coexisting with bison, and wildlife in general. Bison are still wild even if moved. The brucellosis argument is a false one. There has never been a documented case of infection from bison to cattle in the wild. Every single case of brucellosis transfer to cattle over the decades has been traced to elk as the most likely source. Ranchers could also do a better job of managing their herds with regard to elk, especially on public land.
    Ranchers may well be the main enemy of wildlife with their leases on public land and hostility to the wild and interruption of wildlife corridors.
    Moving bison to other public land also insures biodiversity and need not be just limited to Montana. Bison has already been successfully relocated. Bison are a keystone species (good for other wildlife ecology), iconic, symbolic of wilderness and much loved worldwide.
    Wildlife belongs to all Americans, all the world in a sense, and to itself, a precious heritage to be preserved. Ranchers leasing public land need to allow wildlife corridors and coexist with wildlife else give up those leases. Bison are another example of rancher-hunter-state wildlife agency on wildlife.

  5. An entire ecosystem has evolved with bison, the Great Prairie, and perfectly adapted to drought conditions. But the majority of people do not value it. There are some who do, of course, and thank goodness for them.. It’s very sad to think that Europeans came to this country and tried to bend nature to their will, with the way they destroyed wolves and bison, and with government encouragement. It is very ugly. They nearly succeeded, and perhaps they still may. People are so wrapped up in society’s dictates that the don’t have time (or energy) to notice, or even care.

    Until our government honors the treaties they entered into with no intention of honoring, make restitution, and return lands, I cannot possibly begin to contemplate the welfare of immigrants of today. There are people still living on reservations with no running water or electricity. I was reading where Hitler’s ‘inspiration’ was how the US government systematic genocide of this continent’s indigenous people.

  6. We still behave as if it were 350 years ago. The inhumane and unnecessary killings of wolves and bison and other wildlife, whose only crime is being inconvenient, must stop, and we must make reparations to the indigenous people of this continent. I wish we’d get the hell out of North Dakota with that pipeline. You can see how harsh the treatment still is of the protestors, and it doesn’t get the coverage it should.

    • I’m also going to say something that most will think terribly incorrect. I know immigration is considered sacrosanct in this country, but I don’t think immigration can be limitless. It is putting strain the environment, resources, and of course pressure on people already here, of all backgrounds. I was reading a million immigrants a year come to this country, and that we are headed for major overpopulation in the US. How can it be sustainable? It isn’t like the early days of this country when we invited everyone to come on over and enjoy the bounty. Think more cattle, more predators killed, more water usage, more automobiles, more development, etc.

      Perhaps we should consider this from a different angle: if we weren’t such greedy and warlike creatures, and also prone to imposing our beliefs on others, other countries might not be in such dire straits.

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