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After fewer bison left Yellowstone, population set to grow

Almost 170 bison were shot by hunters just outside the park, down from more than 200 animals last year.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2016, file photo, a large bison blocks traffic as tourists take photos of the animals in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park in Wyo. A federal report shows visitors to Yellowstone National Park spent nearly $513 million in neighboring communities last year. The report last week from the National Park Service indicates the spending by the park's 4.1 million visitors supported nearly 7,100 jobs in the area in 2018. (AP Photo/Matthew Brown, File)

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. — Fewer bison migrated out of Yellowstone National Park this winter than in years past, leading officials to drop plans to capture and remove some of the animals as part of a population control program.

Almost 170 bison were shot by hunters just outside the park, down from more than 200 animals last year, The Billings Gazette reports.

About 260 of the burly animals were shipped to slaughter last year.

Park officials have tried to avoid such slaughters by relocating some bison to Native American tribes. But the program has had only limited success, in part because the number of animals migrating out of the park varies from year to year and also because of past resistance from Montana's livestock industry.

Before the winter began, officials agreed to a plan to reduce the park’s bison herds by 500 to 700 animals during the season.

Because that effort fell short, the herd could grow to about 5,100 to 5,200 animals by summer, which is close to the ten-year average, park biologist Chris Geremia said.