Bison Protection Not Warranted

The Service announced a 90-day finding on a 2009 petition by private citizens James Bailey and Natalie Bailey to list the wild plains bison, Bison bison bison, or each of four distinct population segments, as threatened.


"Based on our review," said the Service, "we find that the petition does not present substantial information indicating that listing may be warranted."

In its finding, the Service said, "Wild plains bison are distributed in parks, preserves, other public lands, and private lands throughout and external to their historical range. The current population of wild plains bison is estimated to be 20,500 animals in 62 conservation herds. Recent population trends appear stable to slightly increasing in conservation herds (as noted by the petitioners)."

In 2010, the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity sued the Service for failing to respond to the petition to list the bison and other petitions to list dozens of species as threatened or endangered under the Act.

Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center, said his organization is disappointed in the decision. "North American bison herds are a dim, dim shadow of their former glory," he said. "Today's decision that bison do not merit protection under the Endangered Species Act is a complete farce."

The Service previously turned down a petition to list the bison herd at Yellowstone National Park in the northwest corner of Wyoming as a distinct population group and on August 15, 2007 decided that listing the Yellowstone bison herd was not warranted.

In determining the bison does not warrant protection, the Fish and Wildlife Service completely ignored the fact that bison are gone from nearly the entirety of their historic range, choosing to argue that the agency has only to look at the species' current range, said Greenwald.

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