Yellowstone begins bison capture

WYOMING – Authorities in Yellowstone announced a temporary closure of the Stephens Creek area beginning today as preparations begin for the capture and removal of hundreds of bison from the park.

Park officials plan to capture 600 to 900 bison, which will be sent off to slaughter this winter.

About 4,500 bison were counted this summer in Yellowstone. Most reside on the northern end of the park and migrate into Montana where they can be trapped for shipment to slaughter or hunted once they exit park boundary.

The herd reduction practice has drawn opposition. Some protesters have tried to interfere with the capture and slaughter by chaining themselves to chutes at the Stephens Creek holding pen where the captured bison are held and others have broken into the holding pen to let captured bison escape.

Bison operations at Stephens Creek are part of a coordinated effort of Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) partners, which include federal, state, and tribal groups. IBMP partners agreed to a 2019 winter operations plan that calls for a reduction of Yellowstone’s current population of 4,500 bison.

Located in the northern section of the park near Gardiner, Montana, the Stephens Creek administrative area includes corral operations, equipment storage, a native plant nursery, a firing range, and, during the winter, the facility that is used to capture, sort, test, and temporarily hold bison. The administrative area is closed to the public year-round. During bison operations, the park enacts an additional temporary area closure around the facility for safety.

According to Yellowstone authorities, the population will be reduced using three methods: 1) public and tribal hunting outside the park, and 2) capturing bison near the park boundary and then transferring them to Native American tribes for processing and distribution of meat and hides to their members, and 3) a quarantine program in its initial stages that moves brucellosis-free bison to tribal lands.

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