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Court orders USFWS to revisit 2015 decision to not consider ESA protections for Yellowstone bison

Before dawn on a frigid morning earlier this month, two members of the activist group Wild Buffalo Defense locked themselves to part of an enclosure at Yellowstone National Park’s Stephens Creek Capture Facility. Bison held at the facility are tested by park staff for brucellosis, and hundreds are destined for slaughter as part of the Park Service’s annual herd reductions. The demonstrators hoped to prevent the continued killing of Yellowstone bison and to protest a recent decision not to allow the transfer of bison to the Fort Peck Reservation, in Montana. As activists continue to fight the culling of Yellowstone bison, a recent court decision could help them get what they want: stronger protections for the park’s herds.

Bison numbers are reduced through slaughter and hunting each year for a couple of reasons. Park managers say they need to keep the numbers low or the bison will overgraze in the park. And some local interests want bison to stay off the range and ranches outside the park because of concerns about the spread of brucellosis, a disease that causes cattle abortions, or because bison compete with cattle for forage and can cause property damage.


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