"To be quite honest, I am frustrated and mystified about why fertility control is a tool that isn't being used," Zaluski said, adding that the animals are not at risk of extinction anymore, so such measures might make a lot of sense. "You can reduce population and reduce the number of animals going to slaughter."
Today, there are an estimated 5,500 bison in Yellowstone National Park. This means the lives of 2,500 hang in the balance.
But conservationists see the intervention in bison population as fueled by ranchers with political clout. "Montana's livestock lobby continues to play deadly political games with this keystone species which is not in the least guilty of the crimes cattlemen blame them with," Stephany Seay of BFC said in a statement. "In truth, invasive cattle have left death, pollution and destruction in their wake across the lands of the west, and only wild, migratory buffalo can heal these injuries."
Seay noted the sad irony of the cull, given that bison were recently named the national animal by the U.S. Congress "because they embody such monumental significance in this country, as a symbol of the wild, untamed land, as the true shapers and stewards of native grasslands and prairie communities."