The eight alternatives have several features in common, including the following:
- All alternatives benefit from, and in some cases require, the cooperation of the state of Montana, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
- Every alternative envisions the bison population would be managed primarily through natural processes inside Yellowstone National Park.
- In all alternatives (except alternative 5 in the short term), the use of lethal controls to manage bison is minimized as the population size approaches 1,700 animals.
- All alternatives include large geographic areas where bison are able to range with little human intervention. In alternative 5, this area is limited to Yellowstone National Park.
- Monitoring is an integral part of every alternative, especially as bison approach designated border areas in Montana.
- All alternatives define a management boundary beyond which agencies would take action to ensure bison do not remain.
- If a capture facility is sited as part of an alternative, it would meet certain environmental criteria and comply with requirements of the Endangered Species Act and the National Historic Preservation Act before construction began.
- All alternatives include humane treatment of bison held in capture or quarantine facilities.
- All alternatives except alternative 5 allow bison outside the park. To do so and not affect Montana’s class-free status, special management areas (SMAs) or management zones (in the case of the modified preferred alternative) would be created. The creation of these SMAs or management zones would not require changes to current APHIS regulations, but would require the approval of the state of Montana as specified by Montana law.
- Slaughtered bison could be auctioned or distributed to social service organizations. Bison shot in the field may be released to tribes. Live bison would be available if they had completed the approved quarantine protocol.
- In Montana, private landowners may shoot bison on their land with permission from the Department of Livestock, or they may ask the department to remove bison.
- All alternatives include the suggested vaccination of female cattle calves in areas adjacent to the park or in SMAs, as well as surveillance testing of these herds should contact with bison be suspected or occur. All alternatives also assume vaccination of bison calves and captured adult bison when a safe and effective vaccine is available.
- All alternatives include future research efforts.
For a comparison of actions and features among alternatives, see table 1, “Summary Comparison of Alternative Actions” and table 2, “Comparison of Features of Each Alternative.”