For the first time since the 1800s, a small group of wild bison was herded Wednesday through fresh-fallen snow to reach their historical grazing grounds north of Yellowstone National Park.
As pronghorn antelope and mule deer scattered to avoid the procession, park employees and state livestock agents on horseback pushed the 25 bison about 10 miles down the Yellowstone River valley. It took about three hours to reach an open meadow in the Gallatin National Forest, where the animals will be allowed to remain until spring.
That’s the intro to a long piece on Yahoo!News about one of America’s most majestic animals. While government-sponsored mass slaughters of this beautiful animal have been the norm in recent years, due to concern that bison (also commonly known as buffalo) journeying to lower elevations would bring disease and harm cattle, this brings a bit of hope that policies could be changing.
In 2008, the last time there was a major migration, “1,600 Yellowstone bison were killed — about a third of the park’s total.” Horrible. And while these 25 above were allowed to migrate to the Gallatin National Forest this year, another mass migration attempt may be on the horizon, which may result in the all-too-common capturing and killing of these creatures.
If the test case with these 25 bison goes well, however, the Forest Service may attempt to do the same with 100 next year.
Before Europeans arrived in America, approximately 60 million bison roamed the continent, from Canada to Northern Mexico. Due to hunting, that number got down to only 300….
While the Forest Service is hopeful this new limited migration plan will be helpful, some bison advocacy organizations don’t think it’s a good idea. “You can’t treat bison like livestock. This is a wild animal and they’ve set up a livestock operation,” said Stephany Seay with the Buffalo Field Campaign. There is concern that the migration will result in a scent trail that other bison will try to follow to their doom. And there is also the difficulty of keeping these wild animals within ‘bounds.’
Read the full story on this recent journey and challenges along the way on Yahoo!News: Spared slaughter, some bison migrate into Montana
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Photo Credit: e_monk