Montana wants wild bison population outside Yellowstone Park
by Yellowstone National Park
January 7, 2011
Bison Management Set To Move Into New Phase
Preparations underway to release test group of bison into Gardiner Basin
A plan envisioned a decade ago for increased tolerance for bison outside the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park is about to become a reality.
Since 2000, Yellowstone has cooperated with its state, federal, and tribal partners under the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) to conserve a viable, wild bison population while protecting Montanaís brucellosis-free status.
Step 2 of the IBMP allows an increasing number of seronegative bison on land between the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park and Yankee Jim Canyon, at the northern end of the Gardiner Basin.
In the spring of 2008, an agreement was reached between the State of Montana and the Church Universal and Triumphant which removed cattle from the Royal Teton Ranch (RTR) for a period of 30 years, clearing the way for bison to move onto and across RTR property and onto national forest lands covered under Step 2 of the IBMP.
Early Tuesday afternoon (January 4), a group of 23 mixed bison was hazed into a fenced pasture at the Stephens Creek capture facility northwest of Gardiner, Montana, inside the park boundary. Once a large enough group of bison is collected, they will be tested for exposure to brucellosis. A mixed group of 25 bison will be selected from those that test seronegative for exposure to brucellosis. The animals will be marked and fitted with monitoring devices, and then released and moved to Gallatin National Forest land where they will be allowed to remain until spring. The bison remaining at Stephens Creek will be released back into the park.
The Record of Decision negotiated by the IBMP partners directs the agencies to evaluate the most effective means to enforce the State of Montana restrictions regarding bison distribution. Once the agencies have determined they have gained significant experience with this small group, in subsequent years they will allow first up to 50 and ultimately as many as 100 untested bison on the same landscape. The agencies may adjust these numbers based on this intermediate phase of the management plan.
For safety reasons, the area around the Stephens Creek facility is closed to the public when capturing, holding, and releasing bison. A map and information on the closure is available for public review during normal business hours at the Chief Rangerís Office and the Albright Visitor Center.
This is the eleventh winter the IBMP has been used to guide brucellosis risk management actions.
The cooperating agencies operating under the IBMP are the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Montana Department of Livestock, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the Inter Tribal Buffalo Council, the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribes, and the Nez Perce Tribe. More information on the IBMP can be found at http://ibmp.info/.