Opinion: Yellowstone bison slaughter is necessary
Facebook Twitter Email

"In the fairy-tale setting of Yellowstone National Park, it's easy to imagine the majestic bison as a free-roaming creature, symbol of the not-quite-vanished Western frontier. The Yellowstone bison (which we grew up calling buffalo) are a distinct breed, descended from a few dozen native wild bison and bison from private herds that were combined in the 1920's. Today the park's herd is nearly 4,000 strong. But while the bison of Yellowstone remain an American icon, they are free only within the invisible boundaries of the park β€” a pen approaching the size of Connecticut. What happens when they roam outside the park has set off an uproar that reaches far beyond the rugged land along the border of Wyoming and Montana.

The ruckus started during the harsh winter of 1996-97, when some 1,000 head of Yellowstone's bison took advantage of a new feature in their landscape β€” groomed snowmobile trails β€” and migrated beyond the park border to forage. They were met by sharpshooters hired by Montana's Department of Livestock, whose duty it is to help prevent the spread of disease to the state's livestock. The National Academy of Sciences estimates that as many as half of Yellowstone's bison test positive for brucellosis, a bacterial infection that can cause spontaneous abortion in cattle and, though it is rare, undulant fever in humans. Television cameras recorded the rifles cracking and hundreds of bison dropping in their tracks. The bison population recovered in a couple of years; Montana's public image did not."

Get the Story:
Judy Blunt: When the Buffalo Roam (The New York Times 2/18)
Username: indianzcom, Password: indianzcom

Related Stories:
Internal DOI report supports snowmobile ban (01/31)
John Potter: No more snowmobiles (11/18)
Editorials: Gale Norton's snowmobiles (11/18)
Clinton snowmobile restrictions reversed (11/12)
Public backs snowmobile ban (06/18)
Norton chided Whitman too (5/3)
Yellowstone employees get gas masks (2/14)
Yellowstone to set new snowmobile rules (12/19)
Public still wants snowmobile ban (10/16)
Norton still leery of litigation (8/21)
GOP drops assault on Clinton rules (7/30)
Snowmobile ban may change under Norton (5/22)
Snowmobile ban, Arctic drilling a go for Bush (4/24)
Will Norton change snowmobile ban? (4/23)
GOP comes up with The List (4/9)
Norton, Bush faulted on parks (4/5)
DOI won't confirm settlement plans (4/4)
Norton debates snowmobile ban (3/22)
State seeks snowmobile intervention (3/21)
Snowmobile ban set in place (1/29)
Bush asked to reverse Clinton decisions (1/4)