Alternative 3: Management with Emphasis on Public Hunting
Alternative 3 would rely on hunting of bison to regulate population numbers and distribution of bison outside the park, and on separation of bison in time and space to preclude contact of bison with cattle. Where hunting was infeasible or inappropriate, capture and shipment of seropositive bison to slaughter and seronegative bison to quarantine would be used to maintain separation and manage the risk of disease transmission. As in other alternatives, bison would be vaccinated when a safe and effective vaccine was developed to further reduce this risk. This alternative would have both a distinct short-term (phase 1) and a long-term (phase 2) management strategy.
In the short term, the separation of cattle and bison on the northern (Reese Creek) boundary would be maintained through capture at Stephens Creek and the shipment of seropositives to slaughter and seronegatives to quarantine (or slaughter until the quarantine facility was built). Under the provisions of the interim management plan, the agencies now ship some of the bison captured at
Bison that completed the entire quarantine procedure would be shipped live to requesting tribes or organizations, or used to repopulate herds on public lands. The location, design, and operation of a quarantine facility has not been determined, and an appropriate range of alternatives with different features would be evaluated before one was built. Additional NEPA and other compliance would be required to build such a facility on federal land or use federal money. Until the time a quarantine facility was constructed, all seronegative bison captured at
The Department of Livestock, with help from the agencies, would maintain a boundary at Little Trail Creek/Maiden Basin hydrographic divide similar to alternative 1. Bison moving north of this boundary would be removed by agency personnel with the permission of the landowner.
Bison would be hazed back into the park in the spring, 30 to 60 days before cattle occupy the area. The exact number of days, between 30 and 60, would be at the discretion of the state veterinarian. Those bison that could not be hazed back into the park would be shot. As in alternatives 1 and 4, agencies would also maintain a boundary at the north end of the Cabin Creek Recreation and Wildlife Management Area/Monument Mountain Unit of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. Hunting would be used in both the Eagle Creek/Bear Creek and western SMAs to help control population numbers and distribution. Research on the degree to which the winter grooming of park roads contributed to migration out of the park would continue, and changes in road grooming practices would be made in the long term if research showed they were warranted. These changes would be implemented through amendments to the park’s winter use plan and appropriate NEPA documentation.
In the long term, alternative 3 would call for acquisition of bison winter range through purchase of grazing rights, easements, or property from willing sellers, alterations in cattle allotments, and/or changes in livestock operations to remove susceptible cattle. This newly acquired winter range would be designated as the Reese Creek SMA, and would include lands on the west side of the
If this alternative was selected, the agencies would request the 2001 Montana Legislature to authorize a fair-chase hunt for bison. Public hunting would then become the primary tool for agencies to control population sizes in the new Reese Creek SMA, and would also be allowed in the Eagle Creek/Bear Creek area and western SMA.
Modifications in grazing allotments, acquisition or easement of private land, or conversion from cow-calf to steer or spayed heifer production are options in this alternative for the
Did You Know?
Yellowstone contains approximately one-half of the world’s hydrothermal features. There are over 10,000 hydrothermal features, including over 300 geysers, in the park.