More Yellowstone bison shipped to slaughter

Billings, Montana (AP) 2-08

One hundred more bison have been captured at Yellowstone National Park and 31 were shipped to slaughter in mid February, under a program to prevent the spread of disease to livestock.

The bison were captured, after being hazed around the north edge of the park. They were placed in the Stephens Creek holding facility, park officials said.

So far this winter, 175 bison have been slaughtered in Montana as part of a state and federal effort to reduce the risk of spreading brucellosis to cattle north of the park. The contagious disease, which can cause abortions in pregnant bison, elk and cattle, was first brought to the region by European settlers and is now endemic to YellowstoneÂ’s bison.

But critics say the slaughter program is too harsh since no bison-to-livestock brucellosis transmissions have been recorded. They say alternatives to slaughter, such as a vaccine, should be pursued more aggressively.

This year, 275 bison have been captured and all of them are expected to be shipped to slaughter. Almost 75,000 pounds of bison meat have been donated to five Montana tribes, one out-of-state tribe and one tribal association, said Steve Merritt, a spokesman for the Montana Department of Livestock. The heads and hides also are donated, he said.

Bison are hazed, captured and often sent to slaughter as they try to follow migratory routes out of Yellowstone in search of food at lower elevations.