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New Management Plan for Yellowstone Bison Could Stop Annual Slaughter and Expand Areas to Roam


March 31, 2014

Contact: Steve Forrest; sforest@defenders.org ; 406 581-2663  

New Management Plan for Yellowstone Bison Could Stop Annual Slaughter and Expand Areas to Roam

GARDINER, Mont. – On Friday, March 28, five federal and three tribal agencies announced that they will rewrite the 14-year-old Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) for Yellowstone’s wild bison. The IBMP sets guidelines for managing Yellowstone’s wild bison, and revision of the plan could mean putting an end to the controversial hazing and shipment of bison to slaughter program. Public involvement will be crucial in charting this new course.

Defenders advocates for a comprehensive reform of bison management in Yellowstone, starting with the revision of the current IBMP. The Yellowstone bison population is the most important bison population in the United States, and with about 4,000 animals, it is the largest wild population left in the nation. These genetically pure bison are essential to the restoration of the species. To conserve the genetics of this population, it is necessary that the bison are permitted to roam on federal, state and private lands west and north of the park. Defenders also supports initiatives to relocate disease-free wild Yellowstone bison on tribal lands throughout Montana.

Defenders Senior Representative for Rockies and Plains, Steve Forrest, issued the following statement:

“The state of today’s knowledge demands a new vision for bison management in Yellowstone, one based on science and respect for bison as wildlife, and not based on the fear and hatred of the past.

“Every assumption in the current Interagency Bison Management Plan from the plan’s assertion that the Yellowstone region can only sustain 3,000 animals, to the plan’s erroneous claim that bison transmit disease to cattle is utterly flawed and unsupported by science. A new plan needs to reflect the advancements in science and wildlife management that have been made over the past 14 years.

“The development of a new management plan for bison is long overdue. Yellowstone is not a zoo, and we shouldn’t stop bison at the gates. There is plenty of room to support both wild bison and the livestock industry, and there are good models for doing just that.”


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.Twitter @DefendersNews.