Addressing a Growing Bison Population

Lander, WY – For its modest beginnings, the Jackson Hole Bison Herd has grown to a size that concerns the state Game and Fish Department. In the late 60's there were 16 free-ranging animals, now the population is double the herd objective, almost 800. Game and Fish Regional Wildlife Supervisor Steve Smith says he expects the Jackson Hole Bison Herd to continue its growth. Projections put it at 1,500 animals by 2008. Hunting is only allowed on National Forest Land and has been a largely ineffective population control tool. Just 40 animals were successfully harvested last year. Game and Fish is working on a new plan that should be out for public review next spring. DJ Shubert, a Wildlife Biologist with the Fund for Animals, disagrees with continuing the hunt, which he calls unneeded and unethical. He says it's like shooting a couch. Shubert says the food bison find on elk feed-grounds is responsible for the population boom. He says Game and Fish caused this problem and can naturally reduce the herd size by phasing-out feed-grounds. Shubert also suggests trying contraception as an alternative to hunting.