Hundreds of Yellowstone Bison Are About To Be Slaughtered

Hundreds of bison are due to be killed in Yellowstone National Park in the coming weeks, the National Park Service (NPS) confirmed on Tuesday.

Between 600 and 900 of the animals will be hunted or moved on with the cooperation of Native American tribes and the wider public as park authorities look to keep the numbers of bison in Yellowstone at a manageable level.

In a Facebook post, the NPS in Yellowstone said that operations to control bison numbers in Yellowstone began on February 13 at a northern part of the park called Stephens Creek, near Gardiner in Montana.

"Bison capture and shipping operations begin when bison migrate from the interior of the park into the Gardiner (Montana) Basin and may continue through late March," the post read.

There are around 5,450 bison in Yellowstone, divided between two herds. The Northern Herd breeds in the Lamar Valley and surrounding plateaus, while the Central Herd breeds in Hayden Valley.

Bison were once abundant across large areas of North America but were hunted to near extinction by colonial settlers and the U.S. army in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Settlers killed the animals for meat, sport and as part of their efforts to kill or subdue the Native American peoples living in the West who depended on the animals for their way of life.

Conservation efforts launched in the 20th century have seen the number of bison rebound dramatically in the U.S. An estimated 30,000 of the animals now live in managed herds across the country, while hundreds of thousands more are kept on private land as livestock.

Yellowstone National Park said that the cull of the bison would be done in three main ways: The hunting of bison who roam outside of the park by Native American tribes and the wider public, the capture of and transferral of bison near the park's borders to tribal people for processing, and the Bison Conservation Transfer Program, which moves healthy bison onto tribal lands.

The land in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming that makes up Yellowstone National Park has deep links to Native Americans who lived there for centuries before settlers arrived.

Numerous Native American tribes including the Blackfeet, Kiowa, Nez Perce, Cayuse, Coeur d'Alen and Shosone have historical ties to the region. The United States Geological Survey said that many of the trails now used by park rangers and public visitors in Yellowstone are Native American relics dating back as far as 12,000 years ago.

The NPS video announcing their decision to cull between 600 and 900 bison included a statement explaining their decision: "Bison from Yellowstone don't have enough room to roam outside the park. As the population grows, more bison migrate. This migration can cause conflict. Safety concerns include property damage and disease transmission to cattle. Our goal is to preserve bison while addressing these concerns."

Stock image of bison in Yellowstone
Stock image of bison in Yellowstone National Park. There are around 5,450 of the animals in the park according to the most recent estimates. jtomason