BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A proposal to overhaul the management of Yellowstone National Park's iconic bison herds get its first airing next week during public meetings in surrounding communities.

State and federal officials say it's time for changes to a 15-year-old agreement that's led to the slaughter of thousands of migrating bison. There were about 4,900 bison counted in the park last summer, the most recent tally available. Six alternatives have been offered that range from letting the park's herds grow, to more aggressive efforts to drive down their numbers.

Public meetings are scheduled for Tuesday in Bozeman, Wednesday in Gardiner and Thursday in West Yellowstone. Bison, also called buffalo, were driven to near-extinction in the late 1800s. Yellowstone's animals are prized for their genetic purity but many carry a disease feared by ranchers.