AP Exclusive: Bison plan could remove 360 animals

By MATTHEW BROWN | November 20, 2011 | 10:35 AM EST

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Up to 360 migrating bison would be shot by Montana hunters, captured for slaughter or shipped elsewhere this winter under a proposal from Yellowstone National Park.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press show park officials considering "selective culls" to help reduce the bison population from 3,700 animals to about 3,000.

That comes amid pressure from Montana officials including Gov. Brian Schweitzer for Yellowstone to rein in its iconic bison herds. Others say the animals should roam freely.

Biologists say fewer animals would help avoid the mass slaughters seen during past winter bison migrations from the park. Some of the anticipated decline would come from natural deaths.

More than 3,600 Yellowstone bison were removed through slaughter and other means over the last decade to prevent the spread of disease to livestock.