(Repeats March 3 story for wider distribution)
By Laura Zuckerman
SALMON, Idaho, March 3 Wildlife advocates are
ramping up their campaign against the annual culling of bison
that roam onto state lands in Montana each winter from
Yellowstone National Park, erecting dramatic billboards showing
buffalo bleeding in the snow.
The billboards are the latest effort in an ongoing campaign
by opponents of a years-long practice aimed at reducing the
number of Yellowstone’s bison to protect against disease
transmission and lessen the damage to land in and around the
park, which spans parts of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho. This
year, wildlife managers aim to reduce the herd by up to 1,300
animals, the largest amount in nearly a decade.
“We’re fine with bison being hunted," Michael Garrity,
executive director of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, the
Montana-based conservation group behind the billboard campaign,
said in a telephone interview on Friday. "But this is mass
His group is urging the state’s Democratic governor, Steve
Bullock, to stop bison destined for slaughter from being trucked
through the state.
The outsized road signs, painted by a Montana artist and
bison activist, depict fallen bison with blood drenching snow
and the words, in capital letters, “Stop the Yellowstone
massacre!” Two billboards went up this week and two more are
slated to go up later this month.
Wildlife advocates have also held rallies and a candlelight
vigil against the severe cull.
The bison targeted for hunting and slaughter are among those
that migrate into Montana each winter from Yellowstone. This
year, the herd, the last remaining wild purebred bison in the
United States, has swelled to 5,500, much higher than the target
of 3,000 sought by wildlife managers.
When the herd gets too big, wildlife managers say, it can
damage land through over-grazing. And Montana ranchers fear
bison will transmit to cows a disease that causes them to
In December, federal, state and tribal agencies responsible
for managing the herd said they would cull between 900 and 1,300
bison, one of the largest amounts in the history of the park.
Jay Bodner, natural resource director for the Montana
Stockgrowers Association, said the push to cull the herd is
linked to the impacts on the landscape by too many animals.
“There needs to be management protocols in place to make
sure bison aren’t over-utilizing and destroying the range,”
Bullock spokeswoman Ronja Abel described bison management as
“a difficult and challenging issue.” She added: “The state
recognizes culling efforts are not everyone’s preferred
(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Matthew Lewis)