Last week, we reported on Yellowstone National Park’s plans to cull their bison to prevent them from wandering outside the park’s boundaries. Local agricultural groups believe that bison could spread brucellosis to livestock, though there are no documented cases of that ever happening. Others believe the buffalo are a nuisance when allowed to roam free. Park County, the Park County Stockgrowers Association, and the Montana Farm Bureau all filed petitions arguing against expansion of roaming territory.
But this time, animal rights triumphed over agricultural interests. On March 12, the Supreme Court sided with the buffalo’s supporters and ruled in favor of letting them roam across 70,000 acres of grazing land outside Yellowstone’s northern boundary. Their decision upholds a February 2012 ruling to grant bison access to the Gardener Basin outside the northern boundary until May 1 each year. Earthjustice attorney Tim Preso, who fought for the pro-bison policy, says, “Today’s Supreme Court ruling represents a victory for all those who want to see wild bison as a living part of the Montana landscape.”
Buffalo are still the only wildlife species confined to Yellowstone’s boundaries for any part of the year, but we hope this case will set a precedent to allow the species to eventually migrate outside the Park all year round.