Yellowstone National Park proposes to kill roughly 1,000 wild bison this winter—mostly calves and females—as officials seek to reduce the animals' annual migration into Montana. Park officials are scheduled to meet Thursday with representatives of American Indian tribes, the state, and other federal agencies to decide on the plan. It marks the continuation of a controversial agreement reached in 2000 between Montana and the federal government that was meant to prevent the spread of the disease brucellosis from bison to livestock.
Almost 5,000 bison roamed the park this summer. A harsh winter could drive thousands into areas of southwestern Montana. Hunters, including from tribes with treaty rights in the Yellowstone area, are expected to kill more than 300 of the animals this winter; others would be captured and slaughtered or used for research. "Through the legal agreement, the National Park Service has to do this," a Yellowstone spokeswoman says. "If there was more tolerance north of the park in Montana for wildlife, particularly bison ... to travel outside the park boundaries, it wouldn't be an issue." (Bison are back in Alaska for the first time in 100 years)