Federal judge in Montana asked to end Yellowstone bison kills

Suit asks federal judge to stop Forest Service and Park Service from participating in Montana’s annual bison slaughter-

As winter comes, Montana Department of Livestock and 4 other agencies are again gearing up to kill bison that wander from the confines of Yellowstone Park under the discredited argument these will spread brucellosis.

This year they are being hit with a big fat lawsuit. Federal judge asked to end Yellowstone bison kills. AP. By Matthew Brown in the Billings Gazette. Please notice the excellent links attached to the story in the Billings Gazette.

The plaintiffs bringing the suit are Western Watersheds Project, Buffalo Field Campaign, Tatanka Oyate, Gallatin Wildlife Association, Native Ecosystems Council, Yellowstone Buffalo Foundation, Meghan Gill, Charles Irestone, And Daniel Brister.

More Media on suit.

Groups file lawsuit over Yellowstone-area bison. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole Daily.



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  1. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Great, and Great again, I wish it would not have taken so long to actually do this…

  2. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    About time.

  3. Mike Avatar

    Great to hear this. A big thx to all the conservation groups in that list!

  4. jerryB Avatar

    This is just friggin awesome!!!!!!
    Thankyou to the groups and individuals with the courage to do this.

  5. Connie Avatar

    Wonderful news! Finally, some common sense.

  6. Rita K.Sharpe Avatar
    Rita K.Sharpe

    This is good news!

  7. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I don’t like killing the bison as they leave the park, but some means of controlling the bison numbers here in Yellowstone must be established or they will overpopulate and overgraze just like the elk did for years. The range looks very good this year, but I see places where the bison have already cropped some preferred grasses right to the ground.

  8. gline Avatar

    I would rather have more wild bison than elk… there are tons of elk…

  9. Petticoat Rebellion Avatar
    Petticoat Rebellion

    Buffalo poop! Buffalo poop! Buffalo poop everywhere!! Yeah! Let’em roam…beneficial disturbance, nitrogen deposition, and seed dispersal! Hey Larry, plants are meant to be eaten and herbivores were meant to eat plants…in fact many plants in Yellowstone respond better with grazing than without. If you are referring to the Northern range or the Gardiner Basin, this is a very arid region where plants don’t grow very tall in some areas. But, I have seen this place in the early summer and observed incredible diversity in the plant communities there before it dries out in the late summer.

    Let’s hope the judge makes a decision in favor of the buffalo!

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Save Bears,

    You might be right, but the bison have been taught to stay inside the Park. They need to be allowed and maybe encouraged to move out and inhabit the nearby country which is now cattle free.

    A Park management program could be to herd them out. That would be less intrusive by far that herding them in and killing those that don’t comply.

    Over 10,000 bison hunt permits have been applied for this year for the boundaries of the Park. There aren’t nearly that number available.

    The hunters want bison outside the Park. For all those in Montana FWP who say they want the wolf treated like other animals, why can’t they say the same about bison?

    The ones who don’t want public or hunter enthusiasm for free ranging bison are the livestock organizations who want to continue to prod us peasants around. They love us as much as they love bison.

  11. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Are you sure I am the one you wanted to address your message to? I am all for this action being brought before the court, so we can start down the path to get the slaughter of Bison in the past…the reason I am not longer with FWP is due to issues about bison and wolves…

    I am confused!

    Hi I saw this at 9:50 AM on Tuesday, Nov. 10. Yes, Sorry, My mistake. I meant Larry Thorngren. Ralph Maughan

  12. Elk275 Avatar


    ++Over 10,000 bison hunt permits have been applied for this year for the boundaries of the Park. There aren’t nearly that number available. ++

    There were 10,000 applications and I was one of the 10,000 who applied. That does not mean they issued 10,000 licenses. I think they issued 100 licenses and a waiting list.

    ++They need to be allowed and maybe encouraged to move out and inhabit the nearby country which is now cattle free. ++

    If the bufflo leave the north entrance of the park were are they going to go. Some will go up in the Eagle Creek area and some will go down the Yellowstone Valley. The ones that go down the valley will they kept there travels to public land? No they will go down the valley and go through fences and into private pastures. If allow to stay will they ever go back to the pack? No. They will continue down the valley. I would love to see thousands and thousands of bison on the plains but it’s not going to happen. I would sure hate to hit one at night.

  13. JW Avatar

    Elk275, then maybe MT should allow bison hunting on private lands and let them roam on public lands incl. National Forests.
    From the posts Save Bears, Ralph was likely responding to Larry, not you….

  14. April Clauson Avatar
    April Clauson

    I hope the Judge will rule in favor of this!

  15. Talks with Bears Avatar
    Talks with Bears

    There is a proposal to relocate the overflow bison from Yellowstone to the west slope of the Snowcrest – allowing them to roam the Robb/Ledford WMA -BLM – NF and some Turner ranch property. For those who have never been this is classic bison country. Does anyone know the status of this proposal. Does this just not make sense?

  16. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Great news.
    When might a ruling in this case be expected? It always seems to be a long time between filing to ruling.

  17. hilljack Avatar

    This is almost the same issue with big horns in Idaho and domestic sheep. I like ranching but wildlife should be given priority on public lands.

    Elk275 – of course they will go onto private land. They are wild animals and don’t know what a property boundary is.

  18. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I suspect it will be quite a long time, because you know the Montana Dept of Livestock as well as the Livestock association is going to put up quite a fight over this issue, of course with Watersheds on the project, they may be able to push through something quicker, they seem to be quite an effective group when it comes to lands and wildlife issues..

  19. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Save Bears,

    I guess you saw may apology. My comments should have said “Larry Thorngren.”


    I think the best place bison could be allowed to go now is the upper Gallatin. Cattle are almost gone.

    Yes, the Yellowstone below Gardiner will be difficult, but driving that highway now is exceptionally dangerous. During the winter and springtime, I drive it at 30 mph during the night and twilight.

  20. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    No problem Ralph, I kinda of figured!


  21. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Elk, I agree that it would be bad to hit a buffalo at night. But even if they were allowed to roam further from the park boundary, do you think there would be so many that this would be a problem? Let’s also not forget that there are plenty of big game to hit there at night. That area demands caution.

    Larry, are the buffalo in danger of becoming overpopulated? I don’t think that has ever happened before has it?

    Talks with Bears, where is this area you were talking about that there is a proposal to relocate buffalo? Do you have a web site that mentions this?

  22. Alan Avatar

    There is a natural bottleneck at Yankee Jim Canyon. If bison were even allowed to go that far they would at least have some winter habitat. There are only one or two people with only a very few cows that far, though rumor has it that they won’t get rid of them unless they get a multi million dollar payout like the CUT did to get rid of theirs. We are only talking a few dozen cows.
    Hwy. 89 is indeed “Blood Alley”. A few bison on the road might actually get people to slow down, especially at twilight and dawn (when I’m going and coming from the Park). They sure don’t seem to worry about the deer, elk, bighorn and pronghorn; which all frequent this stretch of road now.

  23. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Alan, that area is definitely Blood Alley. I have seen more carcasses and more people who come whipping around the curves there at high speeds. I agree that Yankee Jim Canyon is a bottleneck that would slow a lot of the migration down.

  24. Alan Avatar

    Bison aren’t overpopulated in the park. They leave the park because the grass is buried under several feet of snow and ice, not because there is a lack of grass. To address concerns about future overpopulation, bison on the roads etc., you manage them in the same way you do other large mammals; with a legitimate, controlled, fair chase hunt. But selling tags for an animal that has no year around habitat in the state of Montana is just plain fraud IMO. Nor is it fair chase to allow an animal just far enough into the state to shoot it.

  25. Matt Skoglund Avatar
    Matt Skoglund


    Thanks for inspiring the following blog post with your comment above:


    Matt Skoglund

  26. josh sutherland Avatar
    josh sutherland

    I bet buffalo could live just about anywhere. They live on the henries and we go down and check them out all the time. Just cedar trees and sagebrush, and man if you spook em they run like satan himself is chasing them. My wife is getting close to drawing a tag there, they also transplanted about 100 buffalo out to the Book Cliffs. Things are looking good here in UT for the buffalo.

  27. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Buffalo can live in a lot of places. I think the Red Desert here in Wyoming could support a decent sized herd. They would not be competing with cattle at all as there is little grazing in the desert. That would be something to see. What part of Utah are the Book Cliffs josh? I have heard of the Henry herd. Isn’t there also a herd on Antelope Island?

  28. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Not Josh, but yes, there is a herd on Antelope, a friend of mine several years ago, drew a tag and took a very nice bull on Antelope, I went down to help him move from Magna to Provo and he had a full body mount, talk about a monster to try and move, but we did end up with BBQ Bison steaks as a reward!

  29. Nathan Allen Avatar
    Nathan Allen

    I was one of the lucky applicants to draw an either sex tag for this season. The only reason I chose to hunt, is I would rather see the State recieve some revenue from the hunts, vs’s Department of Livestock killing them and getting nothing from it, other than harrased by the BFC.

  30. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Does anyone know the genetic purity of the buffalo in Utah? I have heard that the ones in the GYE, Wind Cave, the National Bison Range, and the Badlands are pure, but that many others around the nation are not.

  31. Petticoat Rebellion Avatar
    Petticoat Rebellion

    The Henry Mountains herd in Utah is descended from Yellowstone NP bison which have no evidence of cattle genes. The only other bison herd that has no evidence of cattle genes is the Wind Cave NP (WCNP) herd. But this herd shares a common border with the Custer State Park bison herd which has the highest level of cattle genes of all public herds. So, this raises suspicions about “fence jumpers” introducing cattle genes into the WCNP bison. Evidence of hybridization with cattle has been detected in the Badlands and National Bison Range herds. The Yellowstone bison represent the last genetic well-spring for wild bison restoration and are in dire need of protection!

  32. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Actually, if memory serves me correctly the Pelican Valley herd in Yellowstone is still genetically pure as well.

  33. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    If that is the case then you are right Petticoat. Have people lobbied for ESA protection on them?

  34. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    I have lobbied, wrote letters and talked to anybody I can for almost 20 years now to get ESA protection for the Bison..

  35. Petticoat Rebellion Avatar
    Petticoat Rebellion

    All of the Yellowstone NP bison are free of cattle genes as far as I know.

  36. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Save bears, when you were lobbying, what were the arguments for not granting ESA protections? Did the livestock classification have anything to with it? To me, that is one of the most asinine classifications, especially considering that elk can be ranched but of course nobody would call them livestock.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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