Montana's Avid Hunter Governor Spares Nine Lost Bison
SALMON, Idaho The governor of Montana, an enthusiastic backer of the state's first bison hunt in 15 years, granted a last-minute reprieve to nine bison set for slaughter after they escaped Yellowstone National Park, his office said Thursday.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer decided the bison should "be turned loose in the kind of nice, comfortable place bison like to be," said Hal Harper, his chief policy adviser.
The bison faced a death sentence after making a break from Yellowstone and hoofing it down a federal highway in Montana.
The "Yellowstone Nine" avoided the fate faced by 583 other escapees this winter.
The 583 were hunted down under a state-federal agreement aimed at preventing the spread of the bacterial disease brucellosis from bison to cattle that allows officials to capture and kill any bison that escape the park.
Montana is nearing the close of its first season on bison hunting since 1991. Thousands applied for the 50 licenses offered by the state. Schweitzer sought one of the rare licenses but did not win the right in a lottery selection process.