As many as 900 bison will be removed from Yellowstone National Park and killed as a way to offset this year’s expected population increase, the park announced in a press release today.

Members of the Interagency Bison Management Plan have signed a winter operations plan that aims to reduce the current population of 4,900 animals. According to the park, because its bison population has high reproduction and survival rates, it’s necessary to cull 600-900 animals to decrease the population.

This will be done two ways: public and tribal hunting outside the park, and capturing the bison near the park boundary then transferring them to Native American tribes for processing and distribution of the meat and hides.

The park cited brucellosis, human safety and property damage as concerns about bison moving outside the park.

“Many people are uncomfortable with the practice of culling bison, including the National Park Service,”  Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk said in the release. “The park would gladly reduce the frequency and magnitude of these operations if migrating bison had access to more habitat outside the park or there was a way to transfer live bison elsewhere.”

Currently, it is against state and federal laws to move any wild bison exposed to brucellosis anywhere except to approved meat processing or research facilities. The park says it is studying the feasibility of developing quarantine facilities for bison, which would allow animals that repeatedly test negative for brucellosis to be sent alive to other public, private, or tribal lands for conservation, hunting, or food production.

Capturing will begin as soon as Feb. 15 and will end by March 31 at the Stephens Creek facility near the park’s north entrance.

Information on the IBMP is available online at www.ibmp.info.  Additional information about Yellowstone bison and their management can be found at http://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/nature/bisonmgnt.htm.