Court Rules Bison Can Roam

Until just recently, Bison were the only native wildlife species that were still unnaturally confined to the political boundaries of Yellowstone National Park for any part of the year. In the year of 2008, more than 1,400 bison (about one-third of the current size of Yellowstone’s bison population) were captured and slaughtered by government agencies while leaving Yellowstone in search of food due to the severity of the winter.

But this week a Montana judge ruled to allow the bison to migrate freely across 70,000 acres outside Yellowstone National Park. Now they’ll be able to roam freely without threat of being hazed or slaughtered.

In February 2012, the Federal and state agencies that were responsible for cooperatively managing bison around Yellowstone National Park decided to allow bison seasonal access to important winter and early spring habitat growth outside the north boundary of the park. This took place in the Gardiner Basin area and was to be allowed until May 1 every year. This important decision opened up critical foraging lands for the bison and other grazing animals during a period when higher elevations in the park still lack spring grasses.

However, the Park County Stockgrowers Association, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, and Park County, Montana, sought to block implementation of the new policy in two lawsuits filed in May 2011. The lawsuits would require state officials to adhere to outdated plans for bison hazing and slaughter. They also raised concerns about the potential for bison to infect cattle with brucellosis.

But the judge's decision this week rejected the challenger's lawsuits and upheld the new policy. The decision followed five days of trial during which many Gardiner Basin residents voiced their support for bison tolerance in the area.

Matt Skoglund, a wildlife advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council commented that, “Today’s decision is excellent news for native wildlife in Montana. Many changes in the past decade have set the table for greater tolerance of wild bison from Yellowstone in Montana, and it’s great to see this ruling uphold a good step forward by the State of Montana.”

The NRDC and other conservation organizations are also committed to continuing their work with government agencies and private landowners to help mitigate potential conflict areas outside of Yellowstone where bison should have more room to roam and be treated like Montana’s other wildlife.

Responses to "Montana judge ruled this week to allow the bison to migrate freely outside Yellowstone National Park."

  1. Anonymous says:

    bison belt !

  2. Great News, it's about time to stop the mindless slaughter of Bison.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Leave then regain their healthy numbers but they have to be protected and allowed to grow in number and watched we our them that after darn near killing them all off

  4. Anonymous says:

    I am thankful to the Creator and to the judge, and to all people who are working to save the Yellowstone Bison. I live far away, and don't have much I can only pray.....

  5. Anonymous says:

    Yeae to the bison!

  6. Anonymous says:

    The less wildlife is "managed" the more powerfull nature will control itself

  7. Randy says:

    Hope everyone,happy for this,is going to compensate cattlemen if their cattle get brucellosis!

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is the Bison's land, who are we to dictate where they can roam?

  9. THis is GREAT! Thank you for protecting the Bison
    BY THE WAY, RANDY there are no clinically or scientifically proven cases of brucellosis being transferred from bison to cattle. ELK CARRY BRUCELLOSIS and they range and mingle with cattle in areas much more vast than Yellowstone bison wander...

  10. Anonymous says:

    I lived and worked at Grand Teton N.P. in the late 90's. They killed about half the herd in 97-98 up in Montana. The buffalo were using the groomed snow mobile trails to leave the park boundaries.When they crossed into Montana they killed most. The cattlemens lobby was so strong the state just stood by and let it happen. When the outcry got so loud , then the park service started trying to capture them and sled them back into the park.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The Buffalo (Yes I know they are bison but the old name has too many historical connotations to discard.) need the low winter and spring grazing areas in Montana and a refuge from the imported wolves. The ranchers have a valid problem because buffalo will often break down cattle fences. I summer near the NE entrance to Yellowstone Park and it's great to have a dozen buffalo in the front yard every fall.

  12. Regardless of the Bison roaming out of bordered areas why don't the farmers herd their cattle back into enclosed fences knowingly that the bison migrate at a certain time every year. Those farmers are looking for an excuse to do something stupid.

  13. Anonymous says:

    The bison should be left to roam like the elk,deer and antelope.Killing them off is foolish and about greed of the Cattleman.The Cattle are not natural to this place.

  14. Anonymous says:

    We agree with Anonymous 1/14, 6:40am. I grew up in Park County; my great grandmother had a ranch not that far from Gardiner. We support this decision completely. With as much respect as we have for everyone's rights and opinions as well as our heritage as settlers from Europe, the bison/buffalo were here first. They belong to all of us.

  15. Anonymous says:


Write a comment