• Steam rises off of the colorful Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. Photo courtesy Jacob W. Frank


    National Park ID,MT,WY

Yellowstone Begins Testing and Holding Bison

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Date: March 19, 2008
Contact: Al Nash or Stacy Vallie, 307-344-2015

National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
March 19, 2008               08-019
Al Nash or Stacy Vallie (307) 344-2015



Yellowstone National Park is transitioning operations at the Stephens Creek bison capture facility in order to hold some bison for release back into the park once spring plant growth produces enough new forage to keep bison inside the park.

Under the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), the park works with other agencies to conserve a viable, wild bison population while cooperating to protect Montana’s brucellosis-free status.  That means keeping bison separated from cattle present on land outside the park.

Since mid-December, bison have repeatedly moved through the Stephens Creek area toward or across the park boundary, where cattle graze on private land. Hazing bison back inside the park continues to be the first step of adaptive management of bison in the Stephens Creek boundary area.

When hazing is no longer effective or safe, capture operations may be conducted.  Under the IBMP, bison captured at Stephens Creek may be held for spring release, tested for brucellosis, provided for the quarantine feasibility study, or sent to slaughter.

This morning, the park began testing calves currently held at Stephens Creek for exposure to brucellosis.  Up to 100 sero-negative calves can be accepted and transported to the Corwin Springs facility for the ongoing quarantine feasibility study, which is being jointly conducted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services program.

Once this initial group of calves has been tested, the park will be able to begin testing all other captured bison for exposure to brucellosis.  The Stephens Creek corrals can hold around 200 bison for a few weeks and up to 400 bison for a shorter period before release back into the park.  Based on past experience, the park expects the spring release at Stephens Creek to occur in mid April.
All bison testing sero-positive for exposure to brucellosis will be shipped to slaughter.

Since capture operations began in early February, 884 bison have been shipped to slaughter from Stephens Creek, with the meat distributed to food assistance programs. 

The Stephens Creek facility is located northwest of Gardiner, Montana, and inside the northern boundary of Yellowstone National Park.  For safety reasons, the area around the 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 Ranger’s Office and the Albright Visitor Center in Mammoth Hot Springs.

This is the eighth winter the IBMP has been used to guide brucellosis risk management actions.  

The five cooperating agencies operating under the IBMP are the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Montana Department of Livestock and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. 



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