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YNP Bison Lawsuit

Amy MartinComment

Yellowstone National Park Sued Over Access to Culling Operations

Listen to the story as broadcast on Montana Public Radio.

by Amy Martin

A bison advocate and a journalist are suing the National Park Service over access to Yellowstone National Park’s bison capture facility.

Stephany Seay of the Buffalo Field Campaign and freelance journalist Christopher Ketcham filed suit in U.S. District Court in Wyoming yesterday. The lawsuit claims the Park Service is violating the First Amendment by limiting citizen access to its bison capture facility, known as Stephens Creek. The facility is located inside the northern border of the park, a few miles from the town of Gardiner.

The first step in the ship-to-slaughter process is to herd Yellowstone's wild bison into these large corrals at the Stephens Creek facility.

The first step in the ship-to-slaughter process is to herd Yellowstone's wild bison into these large corrals at the Stephens Creek facility.

Jody Lyle of Yellowstone National Park said the Park Service doesn’t want to send bison to slaughter.

"We don’t want to be in the business of handling wildlife in this way," she said.

But, Lyle says the Park Service is under a court-mediated settlement with the State of Montana that forces them to cull bison which try to migrate out of the park.

Jody Lyle of Yellowstone National Park led a tour of the Stephens Creek facility on January 20. Behind her is the squeeze chute where bison are tagged and tested before being sent to slaughter.

Jody Lyle of Yellowstone National Park led a tour of the Stephens Creek facility on January 20. Behind her is the squeeze chute where bison are tagged and tested before being sent to slaughter.

Last week, Yellowstone National Park hosted a tour of the facility, which is currently empty. They also plan to hold two public viewing dates after bison capture operations begin. But plaintiff Stephany Seay calls these plans, "token tours which will be used to whitewash the operation". The Park Service says access to the large corral is limited because of safety concerns, but Seay does not believe there are any true safety threats to observers.

The state and federal agencies that cooperatively manage Yellowstone bison have set a goal of culling 600 to 900 animals from the herd this year through a combination of hunting and ship-to-slaughter. The Park Service says approximately 200 bison have been killed in the hunt so far.