It is the “declared national policy of saving endangered species,” to “halt and reverse the trend toward species extinction, whatever the cost.”
U.S. Supreme Court (1978).
Join our Campaign to Protect Yellowstone Bison as an Endangered Species
Wild Yellowstone bison are at risk of extinction. Loss of range and habitat, lost corridors, livestock agency control, inadequate and nonexistent regulatory mechanisms threaten or endanger the persistence of the country’s last bison roaming in the wild.
Endangered Species Act protection and recovery provides a pathway for honoring, protecting and restoring Yellowstone’s unique and distinct bison herds in the wild.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is reviewing scientific evidence and information and factors placing the migratory bison herds in Yellowstone at risk of extinction.
Until further notice, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is accepting your input. Your comment in support for Endangered Species Act protection for Yellowstone bison in the wild is vitally important to halt and reverse the trend toward extinction.
Please take action today by sending in your comments in support of protecting and recovering wild Yellowstone bison.
Service Asks for New Science on Yellowstone Bison!
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is seeking the latest science on factors jeopardizing Yellowstone’s bison herds including, but not limited to, the:
- Historical and current distribution of the Yellowstone bison, population sizes, population trends, and any updates to the Yellowstone bison’s predicted range;
- The effects of severe weather occurrences on Yellowstone bison and its habitat;
- The effects of climate change on Yellowstone bison and its habitat;
- Disease and predation;
- The effects of existing regulatory mechanisms;
- Any updates to laws, regulations, policies, or management plans that may apply to the population; and
- Ongoing or planned conservation efforts for the population and its habitat.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is asking for data, maps, methods used to gather and analyze data, publications, reports, or letters from knowledgeable sources, and spatial data (location-specific information). Read the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s interested party letter here (January 3, 2024 PDF 123kb).
Buffalo Field Campaign’s findings on factors jeopardizing the unique and Distinct Population Segment of Yellowstone bison (June 1, 2023) (PDF 22.5MB)
Buffalo Field Campaign sources for a Distinct Segment of Yellowstone bison June 1, 2023 (zip folder 2.3GB)
Need help developing a unique comment? Click on our FAQ to help you get started.
To comment, go to https://www.regulations.gov/document/FWS-R6-ES-2022-0028-0001. Click on the Comment tab. Type in your unique comment. You can also attach electronic files. Select an identifier (individual, organization, or anonymous). Scroll down and click on Submit Comment.
There are many factors threatening Yellowstone bison in the wild, a few are listed here:
- Loss of habitat and home range to cattle.
- Loss of long distance migration corridors to human developments.
- Loss of connectivity to habitat impairing bison’s ability to migrate in response to natural or human-made disturbances.
- Exclusionary management boundaries preventing bison’s natural migrations on public lands.
- The State of Montana’s intolerance for wild bison in the state.
- Yellowstone National Park’s trapping bison for slaughter operations - ongoing since 1996 and the single largest source of mortality.
- The U.S. Forest Service’s land management plan excluding bison from substantial portions of the migratory species’ National Forest range and habitat.
- Management actions leading to the domestication of the wild species such as trapping, quarantining, vaccinating, birth control experiments, etc.
- Management actions impairing bison’s ability to naturally adapt and evolve in the Yellowstone ecosystem.
- Montana Dept. of Livestock authority over wild bison migrating into the state (MCA § 81-2-120).
- The lack of State and federal measures for conserving Yellowstone bison in the wild.
- Rapidly rising temperatures threaten bison’s ability to adapt to increased heat stress.
- Less nutritious grasses resulting from climate change.
Any factor threatening or endangering Yellowstone bison is cause for protecting and recovering wild bison under the Endangered Species Act.
It is an assessment of Yellowstone bison’s “ability to maintain self-sustaining populations over time . . . based on the best available scientific and commercial information regarding the life history, biology and consideration of current and future vulnerabilities.” For more information, visit U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Species Status Assessments web page.
It is also a framework by which the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service evaluates the status of Yellowstone bison using the biological principles of representation, resiliency, and redundancy.
Shaffer and Stein broadly define the biological principles of representation, resiliency, and redundancy as “saving some of everything,” and “saving enough to last.”
In their application to Yellowstone bison:
Representation is saving populations “in an array of different environments,” and “the ecological and evolutionary patterns and processes” that allow for natural selection, adaptation and reproduction in the wild.
Redundancy is the ability to withstand catastrophic events by “having essential backups” elsewhere “as a hedge against the failure of any individual population” in the wild.
Resiliency is the ability to withstand disturbances and adverse events in protected habitats large enough to accommodate population dispersal and recovery in the wild.
Mark L. Shaffer & Bruce A. Stein, Safeguarding our Precious Heritage, (2000).
“Together, the 3Rs, and their core autecological parameters of abundance, distribution and diversity comprise the key characteristics that contribute to a species’ ability to sustain populations in the wild over time. When combined across populations, they measure the health of the species as a whole.” U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Guidance on Responding to Petitions and Conducting Status Reviews under the Endangered Species Act (August, 2016, PDF).
Any of the following factors (individually or in combination) determine whether a species is threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act:
- The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range.
- Overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes.
- Disease or predation.
- The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms.
- Other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence.
Yes. You can copy and paste bullet points and questions found on our web page. For example, the bullet points threatening the migratory species in our FAQ What factors threaten or endanger wild bison in Yellowstone?
But we need more brains working on sending unique information, comments, and questions. You can do this!
If you are uncertain about how to write a comment, send a question. For example, how can Yellowstone bison survive catastrophic events without protected corridors to safely migrate and find forage in designated refuges?
A question requiring examination and investigation from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is a strong comment to contribute.
Yes. For example, what evidence exists that Yellowstone bison in the wild can adapt to rapidly rising temperatures and climate change over the next century?
Your questions should focus the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s attention on any factor threatening or endangering Yellowstone bison in the wild. For example, what State or federal regulatory mechanisms exist to perpetuate self-sustaining herds of Yellowstone bison in the wild?
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service does not define the term, but the agency’s determination of whether Yellowstone bison warrant Endangered Species Act protection and recovery must be based "solely upon the best scientific and commercial” evidence — not politics or economics.
Broadly speaking, it is credible and relevant information from publications, reports, traditional ecological knowledge, empirical evidence, ecological and biological science, books, peer-reviewed research, common sense observations, and questions.
Endangered Species Ads
Share and post our Endangered Species ads for American bison
Buffalo Field Campaign Help Save The Yellowstone Bison ad 1 (PDF)
Buffalo Field Campaign Help Save The Yellowstone Bison ad 2 (PDF)
Buffalo Field Campaign Help Save The Yellowstone Bison ad 3 (PDF)
Legal actions to protect Yellowstone bison as an Endangered Species
U.S. District Court Judge Randolph D. Moss' decision, Buffalo Field Campaign, Western Watersheds Project, Friends of Animals v. Martha Williams, (Jan. 12, 2022) (PDF, bench opinion)
U.S. District Court Judge Christopher R. Cooper’s decision, Buffalo Field Campaign, Western Watersheds Project, Friends of Animals v. Zinke, (Jan. 31, 2018) (PDF, bench opinion)
December 28, 2023
Curious Case of Bison, National Mammal has rebounded, but still endangered? (Brett French, Missoulian, PDF 3.6MB)
September 6, 2019
Conservationists blast USFWS Denial of Yellowstone Bison Protection
Petitions to list the Distinct Population Segment of Yellowstone bison
Buffalo Field Campaign & Western Watersheds Project, Petition to list the Yellowstone Bison as a Distinct Population Segment under the Endangered Species Act (November 2014) (PDF 692kb).
James Horsley, Petition to List the Yellowstone National Park Bison Herd as Endangered (January, 1999) (PDF 2.9MB)
James Horsley, A Petition to Protect Yellowstone's Wild Bison from Extinction (January 2017) (PDF 13MB)
James Horsley, Yellowstone's Wild Bison On the Brink of Extinction (February 2018) (PDF 6.5MB)
James A. Bailey & Natalie A. Bailey, Petition to list plains bison as threatened under the ESA (June 2009) (PDF 180kb).
A poem by John Trudell, music by Good Shield Aguilar and Mignon Geli, and video by Mike Mease, Buffalo Field Campaign. A powerful anthem to the wisdom of the buffalo. Learn how you can help America's last wild buffalo!
WILD IS THE WAY ~ ROAM FREE!