Federal Judge Orders U.S. Fish and Wildlife to Revisit Endangered Species Designation for Yellowstone NP Bison

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by Will Powers/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Yellowstone National Park’s bison herds face an uncertain future as federal orders have forced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to revisit their decision not to classify the animals as endangered.

The decision potentially warrants revisitation. Conservationists insist the national park’s bison will soon face extinction as a result of climate change. That comes alongside habitat loss and certain policies within the park that allow for bison removal and hunting. That said, ABC News further states The Buffalo Field Campaign and Western Watersheds Project groups have spent several years fighting for the bison’s preservation. The organization has been persistent since 2014 as they aim to have Yellowstone’s bison declared endangered or threatened.

According to the outlet, the federal decision comes as conservation groups have distinguished two genetically distinct species of Yellowstone bison. However, the Fish and Wildlife Service insists that this is not the case.

The national organization previously dismissed the genetic differences back in 2019, rejecting conservationists’ petition several years ago.

For now, Outsiders await a final decision regarding the park’s bison. Meanwhile, advocates insist on a population limit of 3,000 bison per species, amounting to 6,000. That would replace the previous total of 3,000 overall.

Further, federal proceedings have not set a deadline regarding the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision. However, both parties pursuing the case of Yellowstone’s bison herds must report within 90 days.

Hundreds of Yellowstone Bison Face Necessary Dispatch

As we wait for federal agencies to determine the fate of Yellowstone National Park’s bison herds, the large, magnificent creatures previously faced a mass culling in December last year.

Much like the herds of whitetail deer across the United States this hunting season who suffered from species’ chronic wasting disease, the American bison is currently facing a viral disease of its own.

In regard to our national park’s bison, these large bovines can often suffer from brucellosis. The CDC explains that this particular disease can be found in herds of livestock, including cattle, goats, pigs, and sheep. However, in relation to bison, the disease can easily travel through large herds of hooved animals.

That said, the national park has worked through the season to preserve and save many of its occupants. However, Yellowstone’s brucellosis quarantine program boasts a capacity of no more than 100 animals at a time. To combat the spread of the disease to the rest of the park’s herds, officials have begun culling some of Yellowstone’s large occupants.

As for the rest of the bison who don’t fit within the quarantine facilities, hundreds of others become harvested by hunters or rounded up for slaughter. However, among the spread of the current bison pandemic, officials have already begun work on expanding their quarantine facilities.

Further, while the efforts might seem inhumane or harsh, it’s just another method for park officials to preserve our nation’s most iconic bovine.