No listing for bison
by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
August 20, 2007
The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service has concluded that a petition to list the Yellowstone National Park bison herd as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act does not provide substantial scientific or commercial information to indicate listing may be warranted at this time.
FWS received the petition to list the YNP bison herd and to designate critical habitat in and adjacent to YNP from an individual, James Horsley of Moorhead, Minnesota on February 11, 1999. Action on this petition has been precluded until now because of higher listing priorities.
FWS finds that the YNP bison herd is not in danger of going extinct. Since the petition was filed, a multi-agency Joint Bison Management Plan was finalized in 2000. The plan provides substantial protection for the YNP bison herd and therefore there is not a current credible threat to the herdís existence, which would be necessary to list the herd under the ESA.
The listing petition identified as a cause for listing the 1996-1997 winter when brucellosis control effort that resulted in the death of some bison that ranged outside the park. However, since then the implementation of the management plan provides a method of addressing brucellosis without jeopardizing the Yellowstone herdís continued existence.
The petitioner asked FWS to consider designating the YNP bison herd as a distinct population segment. A distinct population segment of a vertebrate species can be treated as a species for purposes of listing if that population segment satisfies specific standards set by FWSís regulations. The standards require it to be discrete from the remainder of the population and significant to the species to which it belongs. Once those two standards are met, FWS conducts status and threats analyses.
The YNP bison herd is considered discrete because it is the only herd in the lower 48 States that has remained in a wild state since prehistoric times. All bison herds in the United States are reconstituted herds and most are confined with fencing or otherwise range restricted.