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Environment & Science

Permanent Shooting Bans Proposed For Two Areas Near Yellowstone

The town of Gardiner, Montana spreads out along the Yellowstone River and the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, May 31, 2019.
Rachel Cramer/Yellowstone Public Radio
The town of Gardiner, Montana spreads out along the Yellowstone River and the North Entrance to Yellowstone National Park, May 31, 2019.

 

The Custer Gallatin National Forest is proposing to make temporary shooting bans in two small areas north of Yellowstone National Park permanent.

U.S. Forest Service officials say the two sections northwest of Gardiner are too close to private residences, Highway 89, the Gardiner Airport and Old Yellowstone Trail. In a recent press release, officials say their locations make it difficult, if not impossible to safely shoot a firearm of the caliber needed to harvest a bison or other big game animal.

Bison migrate out of Yellowstone every winter in search of food at lower elevations. Their path funnels through Beattie Gulch, a stretch of U.S. Forest Service land where bison hunting is allowed.

Since 2016, the Forest Service has temporarily banned shooting in an 18 acre section of the approximately 150 acre area, along with 5 acres at another site near the McConnell Fishing Access Area.

If the new proposal is approved, the shooting ban in those sections would be permanent. Bow hunting would still be allowed.

Gardiner District Ranger Mike Thom told YPR on June 22. that the Forest Service has been working closely with Park County, the state of Montana, and local and tribal partners to address the safety concerns during the hunt.

Thom said the proposal, if approved, would not change rules for the areas people were able to hunt last year.

Bison hunting in Beattie Gulch has long been contested. A group of locals filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service in October to stop the annual hunt. A U.S. District Judge in December said there wasn’t sufficient evidence that the hunt has a negative impact on businesses, increases the risk of the bacterial disease brucellosis or causes irreparable trauma.

Public comments on the proposal will be accepted from June 24 to Aug. 22.