How Many Bison Are In Yellowstone Park?

In Yellowstone National Park, how many bison are there? The bison population varies between 2,300 and 5,500 animals and is divided into two subpopulations according to where they congregate for breeding. The Lamar Valley and the surrounding high plateaus are breeding grounds for the northern herd. The core herd breeds in Hayden Valley.

Bison are overpopulated in Yellowstone. Some will be transferred to tribal countries.

The large bison herd in Yellowstone will be culled. Scott Simon discusses the role of tribes with Troy Heinert, executive director of the InterTribal Buffalo Council.


Around 5,000 bison can be seen in Yellowstone National Park. The National Park Service deems that to be an excessive number. Nine hundred of these bison will be killed by hunting or trapping. In accordance with a deal negotiated by wildlife officials and tribal organizations, a small number will be transferred this winter. Currently joining us from Nevada is Troy Heinert, executive director of the InterTribal Buffalo Council and a member of the Rosebud Sioux Nation. We really appreciate you being here.

HEINERT: The disease is a concern, but indigenous nations also need to have access to wild buffalo again. We know our tribes have the ability to manage and expand those herds and, you know, obtain the pure genetics that Yellowstone buffalo have, so that is where ITBC’s main interest lies.

HEINERT: The species’ foundation is represented by the Yellowstone buffalo. They are the last remaining wild buffalo that are free to wander and descend from the same species that our ancestors hunted and subsisted on. Due to our spiritual and cultural ties to these buffalo, tribes are particularly interested in preserving the species and genetic makeup of those buffalo and incorporating it into their own tribal herds.

HEINERT: Each of the 76 tribes that make up the ITBC and the Lakota people have their own special relationship with buffalo. Our main source of nourishment was buffalo. It offered safety. It was equipment and weaponry. But it was also more about learning. The male buffalo observed by our young men demonstrated how the males guard the cows and the calves. And it strengthened our sense of fortitude. You see, we strive to treat the buffalo as if they were a relative. In addition, numerous tribes have their own ceremonies and songs devoted to the buffalo.

SIMON: Why are the number of bison that can be moved so few? And you, Mr. Heinert, would know?

HEINERT: The space is simply insufficient. And we’re aiming to improve the size and capacity to catch more of these animals by collaborating with, say, congressional members and park administrators.

SIMON: You must be thinking a lot of contradictory things about this; on the one hand, you must be delighted that bison have returned to some communities. However, there is also a loss, isn’t there?

HEINERT: It is quite challenging when some of those animals are culled since we are aware that we have tribes that can care for these creatures. However, we also recognize that, you know, the ceremonial hunts, the surrounding tribes, and the agreements that they have with the park — you know, you know, we can support those efforts as well because that is a cultural and spiritual link to that. So, yeah, we do seem to be experiencing some conflicting emotions. Our main goal is to provide as many live buffalo as possible to as many tribal countries as we can.

SIMON: Rosebud Sioux Nation member Troy Heinert serves as executive director of the InterTribal Buffalo Council. We appreciate you being here, Mr. Heinert.

With only 49 killed, the Yellowstone Bison Slaughter fails miserably.

With only 49 slain, a plan to kill 600 to 900 bison in Yellowstone National Park has fallen far short of its goal.

In an effort to reduce the number of animals in the park at a tolerable level, officials declared in February that they would slaughter hundreds of the creatures. The NPS stated at the time that “Yellowstone’s bison don’t have enough space to roam outside the park.” “More bison move away as the population increases. Conflict can result from this migration. Property damage and the spread of disease to animals are safety concerns. Our objective is to address these issues while preserving bison.”

There are two herds of roughly 5,500 bison in Yellowstone. In North America, the enormous animals were hunted almost to extinction in the 18th and 19th centuries, but conservation measures started in the 20th century have led to a sharp rise in their populations.

The number of Yellowstone bison is currently at its greatest level since 1872, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Officials conduct an annual slaughter to maintain population control as the animals continue to procreate.

Because a large portion of the population has been exposed to brucellosis, a bacterial disease that may spread to cattle and other livestock, the state of Montana, which owns property in Yellowstone, is stringent about prohibiting bison from roaming freely outside of the park.

If too many bison leave the park, park officials are also worried about their safety. When confronted by humans, the enormous animals are prone to violence and have attacked more people than any other species in Yellowstone National Park.

The spokesperson stated that “operations for capturing and exporting bison begin when bison migrate from the interior of the park into the Gardiner (Montana) Basin and may continue normally into late March.” “A relatively small number of bison moved to lower elevations outside the park this year as a result of the milder winter. Every year, it gets harder to predict the migration.”

Data given at an Interagency Bison Management Plan meeting on April 13 indicated that only 49 bison had been taken out of the park throughout the winter, according to the hunting publication Field & Stream.

In order to manage bison in the Yellowstone region, various agencies came together to create the Interagency Bison Management Plan in 2000. It consists of eight groups, including Tribal Nations, State and Federal Agencies, and other organizations.

Three methods are used to cull bison: bison are hunted outside the park by Native American tribes and the general public; bison are captured close to the park’s borders and given to tribal members for processing; and healthy bison are transferred onto tribal lands through the Bison Conservation Transfer Program.

State hunters killed two bulls located to the north and west of the park during this year’s cull, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Native American tribes slaughtered two bulls and two cows to the north of the park. 27 animals—five cows, one bull—were killed during the hunting. The other 10 were apprehended and quarantined.

Native Americans have ties to the territory in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming that is now Yellowstone National Park for hundreds of years. Tribes that take part in the Interagency Bison Management Plan receive the meat and hide taken during the culls. Before being released onto tribal territories, quarantined bison are examined for disease.

A Yellowstone National Park remark has been added to this article.


According to the park’s website, Yellowstone National Park is the only location in the country where wild bison have been present continuously since the Stone Age.

Up to 60 million bison formerly roamed North America, but the species was almost wiped off in the late 1800s when the U.S. army launched a mission to do so in order to subdue Native American tribes, according to the website.

The United States’ bison population had fallen to as little as 300 animals by 1901. Of those, 23 were residents of Yellowstone Park. At the park’s headquarters in Mammoth and later at the Buffalo Ranch in Lamar Valley, the park bred those bison with a captive herd.

Beschta and Geremia concur that the number of bison in Yellowstone National Park has likely increased recently, with the population of the two herds ranging in size from 3,000 to 5,000. There were 1,162 bison in the center herd and 3,667 in the northern herd as of August 2019. The effects of the northern herd are the main subject of the investigation.

The bison herds are not permitted to travel freely because they spread brucellosis, a livestock disease that may spread from cattle to animals and vice versa, throughout Yellowstone National Park and a small region outside of the park.

Close animal contact, especially contact with an aborted fetus, is a key factor in the transmission of the bacterial illness that causes ungulates to abort fetuses. Additionally, undercooked foods and unpasteurized milk can spread brucellosis to humans.

Despite having brucellosis, elk are not restricted in their roaming. Even though elk have been the source of all known brucellosis transmissions to livestock, only bison are immune.

The Interagency Bison Management Plan, which was created by a coalition of federal, state, and tribal officials, directs management of the size of the bison population in Yellowstone. According to Geremia, conflicts with agricultural interests outside the park are what motivate population management because as the herds grow, the likelihood that bison may leave the park increases.

Each year, hundreds of bison are killed by biologists and hunters, the majority belonging to Native American tribes exercising their treaty rights, in order to control the herd’s size and stop the population from spreading outside of managed boundaries.

In Yellowstone National Park, how many bison are there?

Yellowstone National Park is one of the best sites in the world to see bison in the wild if you’ve always wanted to. In fact, at certain times of the year, you can witness herds upon herds of them collected simultaneously in the meadows. Individual bison are less likely to be spotted than hundreds at once, giving you a better chance to observe them.

There are typically between 5,000 and 6,000 bison living in Yellowstone at any given moment, depending on the season. There are always at least 5,000 bison in Yellowstone National Park and the surrounding areas. The population grows during the breeding and birthing seasons.

Bison are so numerous at Yellowstone National Park that they frequently cause traffic and enormous crowds of visitors to see them. Even though it’s impossible to avoid marveling at the bison in Yellowstone, it’s crucial to always keep a safe distance from them and abide by any driving regulations in the park.

As the winter migration begins, observe more than 150 bison weaving around traffic in Yellowstone.

As seen by a visitor photographing the event from inside their parked car, the American bison (Bison bison) winter migration has started in Yellowstone National Park, according to Hannah Osborne for Newsweek. A herd of 150 bison can be seen in the ten-minute YouTube video weaving across traffic at the park’s west entry road.

Officials from the park also published a notice on Facebook advising tourists to avoid approaching migrating bison. Remember to drive carefully, give them space, and use a zoom lens when necessary. Keep at least 100 yards (91 meters) away from bears or wolves and at least 25 yards (23 meters) from bison, elk, and other wildlife.

Buffalo, commonly known as a bison, is a native of North America. It migrates briefly during certain seasons and lives in small herds. Bison move to lower elevations in search of food once the snow starts to fall and build, and are frequently spotted strolling down the park’s roadways. When winter arrives, other animals such as bighorn sheep, elk, pronghorn, and mule deer also go to lower elevations. Eventually, according to the Yellowstone National Park webpage on bison management, these beasts make their way back to higher elevation pastures throughout the summer.

Because of how aggressively they graze in grasslands during their migrations, bison are crucial to the health of Yellowstone’s ecosystem. According to Yellowstone National Park, grazing animals are thought of as ecosystem engineers because their eating habits encourage rapid development earlier in the spring and keep plants growing longer. This is seen by NASA satellite photographs of grazed and ungrazed areas.

According to Newsweek, the National Park Service last tallied the number of bison in Yellowstone at 4,680 in 2020. One of the few places where bison can range freely is Yellowstone. As the species was on the verge of extinction in 1900, measures were taken to preserve its population size. According to J. Weston Phippen’s 2016 article for the Atlantic, bison were purposefully killed during the Western expansion in order to eliminate a significant source of sustenance for Indigenous people.

The bison were the foundation of the Indigenous peoples’ economy before the arrival of the Europeans, with an estimated 50 million of the creatures roaming the North American continent. Bison flesh, hides, fur, and bones were utilized for sustenance, shelter, tools, clothing, and other purposes. They were frequently regarded as sacred symbols. The National Wildlife Federation and tribal governments have teamed up recently to help bison return to their original habitat.

Officials from Yellowstone advise avoiding approaching wildlife to capture pictures. According to Newsweek, visitors should stay inside their vehicles if they come across bison on the park’s roadways.

“The aggressive actions of bison, which are wild creatures, include pawing the ground, snorting, bobbing their heads, roaring, and lifting their tails in response to danger. A threatened bison may charge if it doesn’t cause the threat (in this case, it was a person) to retreat “Bison biologist Chris Geremia says Newsweek. Keep at least 25 yards away from bison, walk away if they approach, and flee or find shelter if they charge to stay safe.