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Three Bison Illegally Killed Inside Yellowstone National Park


SALMON, Idaho, March 18 (Reuters) - Three bison were shot and killed insideYellowstone National Park, where hunting is banned and where the U.S. Army once protected the nation's last band of purebred bison from poachers, a park ranger said on Tuesday.

A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to a conviction in the rare illegal killing of the protected animal, said Yellowstone Chief Ranger Tim Reid.

The three bison, also called buffalo, were found dead on a roadside in the northern part of the park and were likely shot between the evening of March 13 and morning of March 15.

"There are illegal kills but it's relatively infrequent with bison," he said.

Two bison were last shot and killed more than five years ago in Yellowstone, which spans parts of the Western U.S. states of WyomingMontana and Idaho.

A federal law enacted in 1894 that banned hunting and killing of animals inYellowstone was crafted in response to a late 19th century poaching incident in which a man shot several bison dead inside the park, according to Yellowstone.

The U.S. Army was ordered at the turn of the century to stand guard over the fewer than 50 bison that found refuge at Yellowstone after systematic hunting pushed the nation's vast herds to the brink of extinction, Yellowstone said.