FWS to Review Yellowstone Bison for Possible ESA Listing

FWS to Review Yellowstone Bison for Possible ESA Listing

On June 3, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced that it will be conducting a comprehensive status review of Plains bison in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem for possible listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as a Distinct Population Segment (DPS). The announcement comes after the agency completed a 90-day assessment required through three petitions to list the species in portions of Wyoming and Montana as threatened or endangered.

“Under the ESA, a DPS is a population of a vertebrate species or subspecies. All three petitions requested that a Yellowstone bison DPS of the Plains bison be designated in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem,” the agency states. “Based on the information provided by petitioners, the Service finds that this may be a listable entity and will further evaluate the validity of the DPS as part of the status assessment… The petitioners presented credible information to indicate potential threats to the DPS from reductions of its range due to loss of migration routes, lack of tolerance for bison outside Yellowstone National Park, and habitat loss.”

Petitioners must only provide information that the proposed action may be warranted to move from the 90-day finding into a detailed status review. The agency published the notice in the Federal Register on June 6 and will now conduct a 12-month assessment on whether listing is warranted. The public is welcome to submit relevant information to inform the status review through regulations.gov, Docket Number: FWS–R6–ES–2022–0028.

If the status review finds that listing Yellowstone bison as a DPS is warranted, the FWS will initiate a separate rule making process with public notice and comment.

June 15, 2022