Bison have never been a species that have made me lose sleep over draw results. 200-inch mule deer and mature bull elk tend to be the species that I spend most of my time day-dreaming about. Mike harvested a freezer full of bison last year and that has me thinking a little bit more about these animals that live just up the road from our home in the Cowboy State.
I might get more excited about hunting bison if 1000 tags were suddenly added to the migration hunt pool. Unfortunately, only 300 tags of a possible 1000 will be available to hunters and resident Indian tribes who qualify to hunt the animals as they leave the park for Montana. The remaining 700 will be slaughtered for research purposes. Yup, you read that right, 700 bison will go to slaughter for research purposes.
Yellowstone National Park can only support approximately 4000 buffalo and with 5000 animals living there in the summer they are well over objective. I will not get into the fact that they put wolves in Jellystone to help control the bison, which seems not to have worked. More about that in a later rant. Because the vast majority of the bison migrate out of the park every winter there is only a short window of time to hunt them.
Bison are big creatures and they require very large tracts of land. When they leave the safety of Yellowstone and enter large sections of land occupied by cattle, brucellosis travels with the bison on their migratory route north, creating broader issues. In the minds of landowners, wintering bison signal broken fences and aborted calves.
On the other side of the issue is a quagmire of policy change that would be needed to open Yellowstone up to a hunting season in the fall to realistically reach population objectives. There is very little chance that even with issuance of 1000 tags for the animals that there would be a high enough success rate to bring the herd numbers down.
However, it would be better to let hunters harvest them. The most humane solution would be to open up more opportunity for hunters to appreciate these creatures and feed their families with the resource or donate the meat to needy families in their hometowns.
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