A Step in the Right Direction

A Step in the Right Direction for Yellowstone’s Bison

Wild bison should be managed as just that – wildlife – like all other native wildlife are managed today in Montana. To do so, Greater Yellowstone bison need more year-round habitat outside of Yellowstone National Park. Today’s decision by Montana Governor Steve Bullock represents a long awaited step toward realizing the vision of Yellowstone bison managed as valued and native “wildlife”. We thank Governor Bullock and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, & Parks for their efforts to give bison more room to roam.

While the numbers of bison and the size of the area is smaller than we would like, this decision is a step in the right direction. Here is a quick recap of the highlights:

  • Meaningful Habitat Expansion – Bison will have access to approximately 250,000 acres beyond Yellowstone’s western boundary.
  • Elimination of Population Triggers – A previous version of this proposal contained nonsensical provisions that closed more and more habitat to bison as the population grew. Fortunately, this decision leaves out these triggers.
  • Reduced Hazing – Allowing some bison to remain outside the park year-round should significantly reduce or in most cases eliminate the need for spring hazing operations that push animals back into Yellowstone.
  • Adaptive Management – This decision opens the door to more bison on a larger landscape in the future. The decision is based on an adaptive framework that allows for increasing numbers of bison outside the park as state and federal agencies demonstrate their ability to successfully manage bison outside of Yellowstone.

This decision is not the end of the road for bison. More work remains and we are committed to working with landowners and the State of Montana to ensure this plan is successful and creates opportunities for more bison in more places in the future. Over the past two years, thousands of bison advocates have sent letters to Governor Bullock and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks asking for reasonable changes to the way bison are managed in Montana. Today, we finally made some progress. Please take a minute to thank Governor Bullock and his team!

Governor Steve Bullock
Phone: (406) 444-3111
Contact: http://governor.mt.gov/Home/Contact/shareopinion

Jeff Hagener, Director, Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks
Phone: (406) 444-2535
Contact: fwpgen@mt.gov