Badlands National Park is accepting public comments until October 30 on a Bison Preliminary Action Alternative for the park’s North Unit. SDPB’s Jim Kent spoke with Badlands personnel about the current bison management plan and what changes might lie in the future.
The North Unit Bison Resource Management Plan calls for expanding the area where the Badlands Park bison herd currently grazes. After a series of public scoping meetings on the topic in 2013, two plans have been presented.
One calls for expanding the current bison range by 82,000 acres, allowing more opportunities for visitors to interact with bison from a distance. The second plan calls for leaving the current range in the relatively isolated Sage Creek Unit.
Badlands wildlife biologist Eddie Childers says although some park neighbors are supportive of the proposed expansion of the bison range, others have expressed concerns.
“You know with issues of bison escapes and fencing…and being able to maintain the fence,” Childers explains. “So we’re taking a good, hard look at how much fenced we’re gonna’ be putting up…how much it’s gonna’ cost to maintain that…and working in a formula so that we will be able to maintain the fence and maintain the fence throughout the park and keep that up.”
Childers says there have been incidents of bison escaping their current range through both natural barriers and the fenceline, but they’ve always been recovered.
Members of the public may offer comment on the plan by e-mail through the Badlands National Park website, by postal mail or by stopping by the park.
About 600 bison are maintained in the park after several hundred are culled each year to Native American tribes across the country through the InterTribal Bison Council.
Forward comments on the North Unit Bison Resource Management Plan at:
http://parkplanning.nps.gov/badlands_bison Or mail to: National Park ServiceDenver Service Center12795 West Alameda ParkwayP.O. Box 25287Denver, CO 80225-0287Att: Sara Conlin