A federal judge ordered the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reconsider its decision to deny Endangered Species Act protections for the Yellowstone bison.
The service initially concluded there was not enough evidence that the buffalo needed protection under the Endangered Species Act back in 2015. A study by Natalie Halbert, a research assistant at Texas A&M, showed current management techniques for the mammal are harmful and would benefit from the Endangered Species Act protections.
Currently, bison are managed as one herd. But Josh Osher, Montana director for Western Watersheds Project, said studies show they should be managed as two distinct herds. One of the studies was done by Natalie Halbert, through Texas A&M.
“Halbert’s findings suggested that management approach can endanger the genetic integrity of one or both of those subpopulations,” said Osher.
The judge ruled this week that the service must thoroughly consider all scientific evidence, including Halbert’s study. Now U.S. Fish and Wildlife service must redo their original 90-day finding blocking protections.
“Unless the Fish and Wildlife Service can say somehow the Halbert study is an error and not appropriate to be used for consideration,” said Osher, “then the Fish and Wildlife will have to find that bison may be warranted for listing and move on to their more stringent 12-month review.”
Conservationists are hoping this a right step towards adding the mammal to the endangered species list.