The following article is from the Associated Press:
A federal judge on Monday denied a request from wildlife advocates to stop the planned slaughter of hundreds of wild bison from Yellowstone National Park that were captured as they migrated into Montana.
In a 72-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell in Helena wrote that while the slaughter of bison may be “distasteful,” it is a “time-honored” method of controlling a disease carried by many of the animals.
An attorney for the plaintiffs said an appeal was planned.
An estimated 525 bison are being held in corrals along the border of the snowed-in park after trying to leave in recent weeks in search of food at lower elevations. The animals are generally prohibited in Montana under a federal-state agreement meant to protect livestock against the reproductive disease brucellosis.
So far 217 of the captured animals have tested positive for exposure to the disease. Those will be first up for slaughter. Park officials have said the remaining bison could be killed as well if the corrals at Stephens Creek near Gardiner are overwhelmed as animals continue to pour out of Yellowstone.
There was no immediate word on when shipments of bison to slaughter might commence. Park officials have repeatedly denied media access to Stephens Creek, citing public safety, and have closed to the public a large area surrounding the corrals.
Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash said Monday that park administrators were reviewing Lovell’s ruling.
The ruling came in response to a restraining order request from several environmental and American Indian groups.
The judge also sided with the federal government in tossing out the groups’ 2009 lawsuit in which they had demanded a new environmental review of the federal-state bison agreement, signed in 2000.
He wrote that there had been steady, if slow, progress in trying to establish new habitat for the animals outside the park. He pointed to past slaughters, which have removed more than 3,000 bison over the last decade, as evidence the park’s bison herds could withstand another culling.
“For those of us who admire the Yellowstone bison, it is easy to be sympathetic to an emotional appeal to ‘stop the slaughter,’” Lovell wrote. “Yet it is clear that this population of wild bison — diseased and healthy — ought not to be allowed to reproduce prolifically beyond the capacity of its range without the institution of scientific management.”
Plaintiffs’ attorney Summer Nelson with the Western Watersheds Project in Missoula said she would appeal Lovell’s ruling to the 9Th Circuit Court of Appeals. She argued that fewer cattle operations in the vicinity of the park should result in more room for the animals to roam, rendering the periodic slaughters of the animals unnecessary.
“I’m still hopeful we will prevail on appeal and get a little room for bison outside the park,” she said. “We will still seek emergency relief against sending bison to slaughter while we’re resolving the appeal.”
Source: Associated Press
Posted by Haylie Shipp