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Janie Osborne, File, Associated Press
In this March 17, 2011, file photo, a free bison roams around the outside of a pen enclosing bison in Gardiner, Mont., in Yellowstone National Park.

BILLINGS, Mont. — Yellowstone National Park administrators are recommending the removal of roughly 900 bison next winter through hunting, shipments to slaughter and for research purposes.

The proposal represents about 19 percent of the park's wild bison.

Officials say removing the animals will relieve population pressures that periodically push large numbers of migrating bison into Montana during harsh winters.

Wildlife advocates say a better approach would be allowing bison into areas outside the park where they are now barred.

Livestock interests and some local officials have opposed expanding bison habitat. They cite concerns over animal disease and public safety.

Hunters and government agencies removed 640 bison last winter.

Whether next winter's goal will be reached depends largely on weather conditions. Fewer bison leave the park to graze at lower elevations during mild winters.