BILLINGS — A group of wild bison was returned to Yellowstone National Park on Friday in a setback to a fledgling program that allowed the animals into parts of Montana where bison had long been prohibited.
The roundup of the 13 animals came after they repeatedly left a 2,500-acre grazing area in the Gallatin National Forest, crossing the Yellowstone River and entering private property.
After their capture, the animals were trucked just outside Yellowstone's northern border and released. Observers said the bison immediately moved back into the park.
At least 10 bison remain on the Gallatin. One bison is at large and another was shot Monday by state livestock agents after efforts to haze it back onto public property failed.
Bison have been barred for decades from leaving Yellowstone over fears they will transmit the disease brucellosis to cattle. But 25 were allowed to leave the park last week under a pilot initiative costing more than $3 million and highly touted by officials including Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
Montana Department of Livestock spokesman Steve Merritt said the decision to move most of the bison back toward the park was made in conjunction with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"We've given up on those 13," he said.