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Bison capture begins in Gardiner Basin



A number of bison migrating out of Yellowstone Park in late winter are captured each year and shipped to partnering tribes for slaughter or held for quarantine and future release on tribal land. The animals are all tested for brucellosis via a blood test. Pictured, a park wildlife manager collects blood from a captured bison for testing. NPS PHOTOS


MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, Wyo. – Bison operations began March 1 at the Stephens Creek administrative area in Yellowstone National Park. Bison capture and shipping operations begin each spring when bison migrate from the interior of the park into the Gardiner Basin and may continue through late March.

The work at Stephens Creek happens on behalf of all Interagency Bison Management Plan partners which include federal, state and tribal groups. In December 2019, the IBMP partners agreed to a 2020 winter operations plan that recommends removing 600 to 900 animals from Yellowstone’s estimated population of 4,900 bison.

The population will be reduced using three methods: 1) public and tribal hunting outside the park, 2) capturing bison near the park boundary and then transferring them to Native American tribes for processing and distribution of meat and hides to their members, and 3) a quarantine program that results in brucellosis-free bison being moved to tribal lands.

A selection of bison that test negative for brucellosis are loaded onto horse trailers for shipment to slaughter.

Located in the northern section of the park near Gardiner, the Stephens Creek administrative area includes park corral operations, equipment storage, a native plant nursery, and the bison capture and quarantine facilities. The administrative area is closed to the public year-round and the National Park Service reminds visitors that unmanned aircraft like drones are prohibited.

Bison captures for the 2020 season come shortly after Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced support for establishing a wild bison herd in Montana.

Visit to learn more about bison management.

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