2 bills propose zero tolerance for bison

Posted: Feb 5, 2013

Written by

NATE SCWEBER, New York Times

Two new bills introduced in the Montana legislature would usher in a zero-tolerance policy for wild bison, potentially opening the way for a return to the shoot-on-sight practices of years past.

Under a proposed bill in the state Senate, Department of Livestock officials would have the leeway to exterminate all wild bison. And a bill in the state House of Representatives would allow landowners to kill any bison that sets foot on private property. The legislation pits farmers angered by the huge bison’s foraging against a consortium of wildlife advocates, Native Americans and hunters who had hoped that rules banning the bison were easing.

Over the last three decades, around 7,000 bison from Yellowstone National Park, descendants of the less than two dozen free-range bison in America known to have survived the great slaughter of the 1870s and ’80s, were killed for migrating from federal parkland into the states of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.

Yet in Montana, where most Yellowstone bison have been shot or shipped to slaughterhouses, the state agreed last year for the first time to allow bison access to 75,000 acres of public land north of the park for a few months each year.

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