19 Mar 2008, 12:36am
Latest Wildlife News
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Number of bison killed sets record

By MIKE STARK, Billings Gazette

Roughly one out of four bison in Yellowstone National Park has been captured, sent to slaughter or otherwise killed this winter.

The unofficial tally on Monday reached 1,098, topping a previous record of 1,084, set in the winter of 1996-97. The number could exceed 1,200 in the coming days.

Park officials said there were an estimated 4,700 bison in Yellowstone before winter set in, the second-highest total ever recorded.

But as temperatures turned cold, bison began having a harder time breaking through crusty snow to find the food below. As they have done for years, groups began to wander west and north toward lower elevations.

State and federal management policies, though, are designed to keep bison from wandering too far, out of fear that they might transmit brucellosis to cattle in the area. …

A larger percentage was taken in the winter of 1996-97, when 1,084 of the estimated 3,400 bison were shot or sent to slaughter, prompting widespread outcry.

But the population rebounded to a record 4,900 in the summer of 2005. The following winter, nearly 1,000 were removed in government management and hunts, and again the population bounced back.

“It says we have a very strong and robust population,” Nash said. … [more]



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