A coalition of Indian tribes and environmental groups is suing to force a re-examination of the interim bison management plan for Yellowstone National Park.
Attorney Jim Angell with the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund said the federal courts were asked to prohibit the slaughtering approach next winter that officials used last winter to kill 1,100 bison after they wandered from the park.
“Unless something changes, we’ll still be saddled with the same highly lethal management plan that governed bison last year,” Angell said. “What we’re asking for … is that they take a step back and look at the impacts of that plan.”
The lawsuit does not address the new bison plan announced last week in Denver since it does not go into effect until the winter of 1998 at the earliest.
“We can’t stand by and allow a repeat of last winter’s slaughter,” said Mike Fox, president of the InterTribal Bison Cooperative. “If the Native American community doesn’t take a stand on behalf of the buffalo now, we will be standing in the bison killing fields counting carcasses again next spring.”
About 1,100 bison were either shot or captured for shipment to slaughter as they left the park in search of food. Another 900 died from harsh winter conditions to leave about 1,500 bison alive in the park.
The killing by the Montana Department of Livestock and the National Park Service was done under an interim management plan designed to contain brucellosis, which causes cows to abort calves.
Montana’s ranching industry spent millions of dollars to eradicate the disease from cattle, but the government threatened to revoke that brucellosis-free certification and require costly testing if bison are allowed to wander into Montana.
Under the new plan announced last week, the bison herd would be capped at 1,700 to 2,500 animals.
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