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Montana Board of Livestock Votes Against Expanding Habitat for Wild Bison

Montana Board of Livestock Votes Against Expanding Habitat for Wild Bison: Decision Perpetuates Annual Slaughter of Yellowstone Bison


May 20, 2014

Steve Forrest, sforrest@defenders.org; 406 581-2663  

GARDINER, Mont. – This week members of the Montana Board of Livestock (BOL) met to determine the fate of Yellowstone’s wild bison. Today, the BOL voted unanimously to reject a joint proposal put forth by Montana’s Department of Livestock and Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to expand the tolerance zone for bison outside of Yellowstone National Park, which would enable bison to roam on as much as 421,000 acres federal, state and private lands west and north of the park.

The Yellowstone bison population is the most important wild bison population in the United States. These bison – continuously wild and genetically pure – are essential to the restoration of the species. Without an expanded tolerance zone for wild bison outside the park, it is likely that the controversial shipment to slaughter program – implemented by federal and state agencies to keep the Yellowstone bison population near an arbitrary goal of 3,000 – will continue in future years. In the first few months of 2014, this capture and slaughter program resulted in the shipment of over 250 wild Yellowstone bison to slaughter.

Steve Forrest, Defenders of Wildlife’s senior representative for the Rockies and Plains, issued the following statement:

“The Montana Board of Livestock’s decision not to give even one inch in accepting a larger tolerance zone, ignoring science and public opinion in the process, is indicative of a 19th century mindset that one industry gets a veto over wildlife, a position that has no legitimate place in the modern public policy arena. 

“Native American tribes, conservation non-profits, and thousands of Montana’s citizens support a proposal to expand year round habitat, allowing management flexibility for Yellowstone’s bison. If the Board of Livestock can’t be a credible partner in looking for solutions then it is time for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Governor Bullock to step up and finish the Environmental Assessment process the state has started without the Board of Livestock.”


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.