Court Orders Review Of Yellowstone Bison Protections

Feb 1, 2018

A federal judge says the government will need to take a second look at whether Yellowstone National Park bison should be protected under the Endangered Species Act.

"This is the first step in what I think is going to be a long fight," says Ken Cole, is the director of the Buffalo Field Campaign, a group advocating for bison protection.

He says a D.C. district court judge’s decision Wednesday doesn’t mean the national mammal will be listed under the Endangered Species Act just yet. Instead, it means the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will need to rewrite an initial, 90-day review of the bison’s protections.

Cole says the agency didn’t do it right the first time.

“We think that they injected politics into this decision rather than using the best available science.”

The court’s decision was prompted by a petition from the Buffalo Field Campaign. They say the bison in and around Yellowstone National Park are special and need federal protections.

"They’re the only continuously wild population of  basically genetically pure buffalo," Cole says. "They don’t have any cattle genes in them."

If the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s new 90 day review finds the bison qualify for protection under the Endangered Species Act, then they will then launch a longer, year-long review.