Under the broken Interagency Bison Management Plan (2000), the state of Montana’s Department of Livestock - at the direction of a governor who has illegally trapped wolves just outside the Park - prevented any consensus from being reached at the start of this winter that would’ve capped removal of bison at sustainable levels. Absent a cap, the bison population will be reduced by about a third.
This is not sustainable, with Yellowstone's Central Herd already below minimum population levels to ensure their continued existence. This total lack of regulatory control favored by Montana comes at a crucial moment.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service is in the midst of a 12-month “threats assessment” to determine whether Yellowstone Bison need to be listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. One major factor the Service must weigh into its assessment is the adequacy of regulatory mechanisms that ensure proper conservation of a species. That was the very factor that the Service said warranted listing of Greater Sage Grouse under the ESA.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who is a member of the Laguna Pueblo Tribe and oversees our National Parks, recently signed an order to restore wild bison populations. Recounting the signing ceremony, she said:
“It won’t surprise you that I teared up when I signed the document,” she said. “I was thinking about how the federal government tried to erase Indigenous people in so many ways, taking their land, taking their children, taking their lives and taking away the bison that were so central to many tribal nations’ lifeways. But you know that the bison are still here, and the Indigenous people are still here.”
We are asking you to make a personal appeal to Secretary Haaland to afford the maximum federal protections available to Yellowstone bison now. To be better informed, you can read BFC's Guest Opinion in the Missoulian and Montana's other major newspapers here: Yellowstone Bison Need To Be Listed Now
Or you can simply sign onto our petition to Secretary Haaland at the second link below.
After writing to Secretary Haaland, the bison would really benefit as well if you can find the time to submit official comments to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, who will be making a decision on whether or not Yellowstone Bison deserve the full protection of the Endangered Species Act later this year.
Thanks for your support and help in saving the Yellowstone bison!