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Yellowstone releases new bison management plan

A small group of bison in a field of dried grass and sagebrush.
Mike Albans
A small group of bison in a field of dried grass and sagebrush.

The National Park Service Thursday released a final management plan for bison in Yellowstone National Park. The new plan would allow for bigger herds and emphasize transfer to tribal nations.

Yellowstone last adopted a bison management plan in 2000. The National Park Service says the updated management plan is based on new scientific information and changing circumstances over the last 24 years.

Officials had three options to choose from based on the final Environmental Impact Statement. The Service’s choice would set the acceptable size of Yellowstone’s herd at between 3,500- 6,000 bison. State of Montana officials and Governor Greg Gianforte last year said they wouldn’t support a population of more than the previously agreed to target of 3,000 bison, and threatened legal action.

A spokesperson for the governor called the new plan an “insult” to Montana and added Gianforte will submit a “formal response” in the coming weeks.

To meet management objectives, the new plan would also prioritize tribal harvest of animals outside the park and restoration of bison to tribal lands.

The Service will formally adopt the new plan after a 30 day review period.

John joined the Montana Public Radio team in August 2022. Born and raised in Helena, he graduated from the University of Montana’s School of Media Arts and created the Montana history podcast Land Grab. John can be contacted at
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