Impacts on Recreation
United States citizens and people from all over the world spend more than 9 million visitor days of recreation in developed sites of the
Wildlife and Bison Viewing. When
Increases and reductions in bison numbers in and around the park could directly affect visitor wildlife-viewing experiences. Alternative 1 would lead to growth in bison numbers over the next 10 years (42% increase in population by 2006). Alternatives 2 and 3 populations would be 14% greater than alternative 1 populations and lead to a minor to moderate increase in viewing opportunities. Alternative 4 would be expected to result in a population of 2,812 bison in 2006. This is 8% smaller than under alternative 1 and would lead to a minor decrease in viewing opportunities. Alternative 5 would lead to a 35% decrease in bison populations compared to alternative 1 by 2006 and a minor to moderate adverse impact on associated viewing opportunities. Alternative 6 would lead to very similar populations as alternative 1 through 2009 until seroprevalence stabilizes from vaccination (estimated at roughly 10 years), then would reduce them temporarily by 17%, a minor to moderate adverse impact. Alternative 7 calls for the lowest long-range (15+ years) bison population of all the alternatives. By 2006, the population would be nearly 23% lower. These reductions in population size would likely lead to minor to moderate reductions in bison viewing opportunities relative to alternative 1. The bison population would be slightly higher under the modified preferred alternative than under alternative 1 for the first 10 years of the plan and slightly lower for the remaining five years. This would have a negligible impact on bison viewing.
Winter Recreation. Winter use in the park has been growing at an accelerating rate, nearly doubling in the decade between 1984 and 1994, to 140,000 in the 1994–95 winter season. An estimated 46% of winter visitors liked viewing the scenery most, and 17% specifically identified wildlife viewing as what they liked most about the park in the winter (NPS 1990b). In addition, snowmobiling has become a popular sport in the town of
Winter recreational use of
Hunting.The five-week elk general rifle season in the study area takes place in late October and November. Mean harvest of elk in and near the affected environment is 3,044. By comparison, deer harvest is 2,564, moose is 93, bighorn sheep is 22, mountain goat is 10, and pronghorn is 23.
The American bison is a trophy animal for big-game hunters. Bison hunting takes place on both public lands and private game ranches in
Limited hunting of bison would be allowed under alternatives 3, 4, and 7. Under alternative 3 between 75 and 85 bison hunting permits would be issued per year. Under alternative 4 the number of permits would be approximately 35. Under alternative 7 between 25 and 35 permits would be issued. This change in hunting opportunities in the area would represent a minor increase in overall big game hunting in the Greater Yellowstone Area, but would be a minor to moderate benefit for those receiving permits. No hunting of bison would occur under alternatives 1, 2, 5, 6, or the modified preferred alternative.
Did You Know?
At peak summer levels, 3,500 employees work for Yellowstone National Park concessioners and about 800 work for the National Park Service.