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More than 1,100 Yellowstone bison have been removed from the population, a total that surpassed bison managers’ reduction goals for the winter.

Yellowstone National Park spokeswoman Morgan Warthin said Monday that a total of 1,155 bison had been removed, a number that goes beyond the range of between 600 and 900 that officials agreed to this winter. Bison capture is now over.

In a statement, park officials said they expect there will be roughly 4,300 bison in the park after this spring’s calving season. The statement said that will meet an agency goal of a population of less than 4,500 bison for the first time since 2012.

Wildlife managers try to reduce the number of bison each year because of a multi-agency agreement that calls for a population of about 3,000. Park officials estimated the total at about 4,800 last fall.

Bison are culled through hunting and ship-to-slaughter. Meat from slaughtered bison is distributed to Native American tribes.

Most of the bison killed this year were shipped to slaughter. Warthin said 663 bison have been shipped.

According to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, hunters licensed through six tribal nations and the state of Montana took 349 bison. Another six were wounded and killed by government officials.

The removal total also includes 98 bison that are being held for a potential brucellosis quarantine program, which is meant to certify bison as disease free so they can be released elsewhere.

The park is also holding 31 calves. Warthin said the park will either ship them to slaughter or release them.

The management plan that calls for population reduction is meant to prevent the spread of brucellosis. About half of Yellowstone’s bison are believed to have been exposed to the disease, which can cause animals to abort. Its spread is feared by the livestock industry.

Managers would prefer that hunters take most of the bison that managers want to kill, but the capture-for-slaughter program often removes far more bison than hunters do.

The trap is near the park’s northern entrance at Gardiner, and bison are captured when they migrate north in search of winter forage.

This year’s capture season started slow, with few bison coming out of the park until February. The park started capturing bison in the middle of that month and soon had about 800 in the trap.

Several environmental groups oppose the slaughter of bison. Two separate protests of the practice this winter resulted in the arrest of five people connected to the activist group Wild Buffalo Defense.

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Michael Wright can be reached at or at 582-2638. Follow him on Twitter @mj_wright1.

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