Uncooperative Bison Killed Outside Yellowstone

Jan 26, 2011
Outside Magazine

Yellowstone Bison Yellowstone bison. Courtesy of Flickr

Wildlife officials in Montana shot and killed an uncooperative female bison on Monday in the Gallatin Valley north of Yellowstone National Park, according to Reuters. The bison was one of a herd of 25 that officials drove from Yellowstone to Gallatin National Forest. When it wandered from the National Forest onto private land where it is not allowed, it was shot.

Moving the animals from the park to the national forest, which hasn't been done for decades, represents a hard-won compromise between federal and state govenrments and between ranchers and conservationists. Migrating bison have historically posed a threat to livestock producers in the area because of the animal's tendency to host the disease brucellosis, which can abort bovine pregnancies.

Bison are one of many ungulates in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem whose migratory patterns take them to lower elevations during winter months, often to private land in the neighboring valleys that drain the high Yellowstone Plateau. Over the years, more than 3,000 bison have been killed as incorrigble dispersers.

Although managing for a free-roaming bison herd at the urban-wildland interface has been a politically charged issue, wildlife officials from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and the National Park Service have worked arduously to maintain the health of the range, the wildlife, and the surrounding argricultural infrastructure. No obvious or easy soultion has yet presented itself.

Check out the National Park Service's interagency plan to eliminate brucellosis from Yellowstone bison. Like bison, wolves often get into trouble when they wander out of Yellowstone. Check out Outside's latest coverage of Yellowstone wolves.

--Will Grant

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