Montana Stockgrowers Express Disappointment with USFWS Yellowstone Bison Review

by Colter Brown

The Montana Stockgrowers Association (MSGA) provided the following statement regarding the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s announcement to conduct a status review of the potential Distinct Population Segment (DPS) for Yellowstone bison.

In early June, FWS announced the completion of a 90-day finding of three petitions to designate and list plains bison in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in portions of Wyoming and Montana as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). FWS found that the petitions present substantial, credible information indicating that a listing action may be warranted and have initiated a comprehensive status review of the potential DPS to determine if ESA protections are warranted.

“The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) bison are not a threatened or endangered species,” stated Jim Steinbeisser, MSGA President. “A petition to list has been tried multiple times and science-based evidence was not there to support a listing. In fact in recent years, the Yellowstone bison herd has substantially grown in population, is expanding into new grazing areas within Yellowstone National Park, and has exceeded all previously agreed upon population objectives.”

“Just like we have seen with the continued listing of grizzly bears,” continued Steinbeisser. “A decision to list a species whose population is not threatened eliminates all management tools for the state of Montana and for the producers who raise livestock in the GYE. Management actions like culling, hunting, hazing, and quarantine which are utilized under the Interagency Bison Management Plan are necessary tools.”

“Brucellosis remains a significant threat to the cattle industry with a high rate of infection to other species. It is critical that we continue to have the ability to manage Yellowstone bison and protect the nearly $1.5 billion industry cattle provide to our economy,” said Steinbeisser.

Read more about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision here.

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