Bison Slaughter Outside Park Survives Challenge

          (CN) – The 9th Circuit refused to stop federal agencies from killing wild buffalo that attempt to migrate outside of Yellowstone National Park.
     The federal appeals court in Seattle said the government was not required to reassess its lethal methods, despite new information about the herd’s habitat, genetic diversity and risk of disease.
     The current management plan, in effect since 2000 and due to expire in 2014, allows various federal agencies to cull the herd and kill bison that venture outside the park where they could interact with grazing cattle and pass brucellosis.
     Western Watersheds Project (WWP) and other environmental groups challenged the practice in 2009, arguing that new science should have triggered a reassessment. They met with defeat in Montana District Court two years later when U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell refused to issue an injunction.
     “Distasteful as the lethal removal may be to some, it is clearly one of the foremost management tools – time honored – necessarily utilized to protect the species, the habitat, and the public,” Lovell wrote.
     After a hearing earlier this month, the three-judge appellate panel affirmed in an unpublished opinion Thursday. The judges found that the National Park Service enjoys wide discretion to manage the herd, and rejected the plaintiffs’ claims about new information.
     “WWP fails to show that new information concerning genetic diversity, changes in livestock grazing, the bison seroprevalence rate, development of a brucellosis vaccine, and risk of transmission has affected the quality of the environment ‘in a significant manner or to a significant extent not already considered,'” the decision states.
     Montana-based Buffalo Field Campaign, one of the plaintiffs in the case, says that 3,200 wild buffalo have been killed under the policy in the last decade.

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