Minor changes in the existing plan for controlling bison migrating from Yellowstone National Park this winter may mean fewer animals will be killed, state officials told Gov. Marc Racicot Monday.
Increased attempts to haze wandering bison back into the park, relocating a trapping site and allowing more of the animals to remain in certain areas outside the park are among the likely changes, they said.
“We’re trying to minimize mortalities under the interim plan,” said John Mundinger, bison specialist for the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
The year-old interim management plan, which relies mostly on shooting or capturing and shipping to slaughter bison that leave the park, will remain in effect for this winter and possibly next, Mundinger said.
He predicted the environmental study of a long-term management plan will not be finished before mid-October 1998. That will leave too little time to implement much of the new plan the following winter, Mundinger said. The study has been under way for about eight years.
Julie Lapeyre, Racicot’s natural resources adviser, said state and federal officials continue work on the study, called an environmental impact statement.
The two sides still have not agreed on what the study should say about the potential social and economic impacts on Montana from the new plan, she said.
The proposal, one of seven analyzed in the study due Jan. 15, uses a combination of capture, slaughter and quarantine to handle the bison that wander from the park in search of winter food.
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