PRESS RELEASE: ESA Protection Sought For Imperiled Yellowstone Bison

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New research shows Yellowstone wolves pick their prey based on pack size

Peer-reviewed research shows Yel­low­stone wolves pick their prey based on pack size

 FA Note:   Both wolves and griz­zly bears are “Key­stone” species, intro­duced and/or “man­aged” to estab­lish and main­tain “healthy” ecosys­tems and pop­u­la­tions; pop­u­la­tions that kill and eat bison. Also, the Yel­low­stone bison herd was enlarged with pri­vate herd stock intro­duced by the U.S. Army in 1902.

Buf­fa­lo Field Cam­paign and West­ern Water­sheds Project have just filed a peti­tion with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Ser­vice to list the Yel­low­stone buf­fa­lo pop­u­la­tions under the Endan­gered Species Act.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Novem­ber 13, 2014

Press Con­tacts:
Travis Bruner, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, West­ern Water­sheds Project, 208–788-2290
Michael Con­nor, West­ern Water­sheds Project, 818–345-0425
Daniel Bris­ter, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor, Buf­fa­lo Field Cam­paign, 406–646-0070
Dar­rell Geist, Habi­tat Coor­di­na­tor, Buf­fa­lo Field Cam­paign, 406–531-9284

MONTANA: West­ern Water­sheds Project and Buf­fa­lo Field Cam­paign peti­tioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser­vice (USFWS) today to list the Yel­low­stone bison under the Endan­gered Species Act. Yel­low­stone bison are found pri­mar­i­ly in Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park and migrate into the juris­dic­tions of Mon­tana, Ida­ho, and Wyoming where the wildlife species is forcibly removed or destroyed com­plete­ly. Yel­low­stone bison are the only extant wildlife pop­u­la­tion of plains bison that retains its genet­ic integri­ty and still freely roams in the Unit­ed States.

Near­ly all plains bison in the Unit­ed States are pri­vate live­stock and/or descen­dants of bison that were com­mer­cial­ly inter­bred with cat­tle. These hybridized cat­tle-bison no longer retain their iden­ti­ty as plains bison, or sta­tus as a wildlife species in pri­vate­ly owned herds. All pri­vate­ly owned bison are man­aged as live­stock. Near­ly all pub­licly held bison exist in small, iso­lat­ed pop­u­la­tions on restrict­ed and fenced ranges with no preda­tors and sub­ject entire­ly to human selec­tion.

The best avail­able sci­ence pre­sent­ed in the peti­tion shows that the Yel­low­stone bison are unique, sig­nif­i­cant, and genet­i­cal­ly and behav­ioral­ly dis­tinct. For this rea­son, the Yel­low­stone bison pop­u­la­tion is crit­i­cal to the over­all sur­vival and recov­ery of the species.

Prompt list­ing under the Endan­gered Species Act is required if this last rem­nant pop­u­la­tion of plains bison is to sur­vive and recov­er,” stat­ed Travis Bruner of West­ern Water­sheds Project.

The extir­pa­tion of the unique Yel­low­stone bison would rep­re­sent the com­plete loss of wild bison from the last strong­hold of their his­toric and eco­log­i­cal range, loss of unique eco­log­i­cal adap­ta­tions to the local envi­ron­ment, and the loss of valu­able and unique genet­ic qual­i­ties.” stat­ed Michael Con­nor of West­ern Water­sheds Project.

The peti­tion cat­a­logues the many threats that Yel­low­stone bison face. Spe­cif­ic threats include: extir­pa­tion from their range to facil­i­tate live­stock graz­ing, live­stock dis­eases and dis­ease man­age­ment prac­tices by the gov­ern­ment, overuti­liza­tion, trap­ping for slaugh­ter, hunt­ing, eco­log­i­cal and genom­ic extinc­tion due to inad­e­quate man­age­ment, and cli­mate change.

The Yel­low­stone bison pop­u­la­tion is com­prised of genet­i­cal­ly and behav­ioral­ly dis­tinct sub­pop­u­la­tions with dif­fer­ing migra­tion pat­terns. The wild migra­to­ry species uses a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the geot­her­mal habi­tats in Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park, an unusu­al eco­log­i­cal adap­ta­tion unique to Yel­low­stone bison.

The wild bison liv­ing in and around Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park are the only bison in Amer­i­ca to con­tin­u­ous­ly occu­py their native habi­tat since the days when tens of mil­lions migrat­ed freely across the con­ti­nent,” said BFC Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Dan Bris­ter. “A list­ing under the Endan­gered Species Act is nec­es­sary to ensure the sur­vival of this icon­ic species.”

Poli­cies of the Nation­al Park Ser­vice and Nation­al For­est Ser­vice, and state reg­u­la­to­ry mech­a­nisms threat­en rather than pro­tect the Yel­low­stone bison and their habi­tat. Since 2000, the Park has tak­en over 3,600 bison in cap­ture for slaugh­ter oper­a­tions. The For­est Ser­vice issues live­stock graz­ing per­mits in bison habi­tat. State reg­u­la­to­ry mech­a­nisms in Mon­tana, Ida­ho, and Wyoming all result in the forced removal or com­plete destruc­tion of bison migrat­ing beyond Park bor­ders.

The groups have request­ed the USFWS issue an ini­tial find­ing on the peti­tion with­in 90 days as required by the Endan­gered Species Act.

Once num­ber­ing tens of mil­lions, there were few­er than 25 wild bison remain­ing in the remote inte­ri­or of Pel­i­can Val­ley in Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park at the turn of the 20th Cen­tu­ry. The 1894 Lacey Act, the first fed­er­al law specif­i­cal­ly safe­guard­ing bison, pro­tect­ed these few sur­vivors from extinc­tion.

The peti­tion is avail­able online HERE.

WESTERN WATERSHEDS PROJECT works to pro­tect and restore wildlife habi­tats on the nation’s pub­lic lands through edu­ca­tion, sci­en­tif­ic study, pub­lic pol­i­cy ini­tia­tives, and lit­i­ga­tion. West­ern Water­sheds Project has offices through­out the west includ­ing Mon­tana, Wyoming, Ida­ho, Ari­zona, Ore­gon, and Cal­i­for­nia.

BUFFALO FIELD CAMPAIGN is a region­al con­ser­va­tion orga­ni­za­tion with offices in Mon­tana. The mis­sion of Buf­fa­lo Field Cam­paign is to stop the slaugh­ter of Yellowstone’s wild buf­fa­lo herd, pro­tect the nat­ur­al habi­tat of wild free-roam­ing buf­fa­lo and native wildlife, and to work with peo­ple of all Nations to hon­or the sacred­ness of wild buf­fa­lo.



Buf­fa­lo Field Cam­paign
P.O. Box 957
West Yel­low­stone, MT 59758
bfc-media [at]

BFC is the only group work­ing in the field every day
in defense of the last wild buf­fa­lo pop­u­la­tion in the U.S.