Federal agencies may continue to kill wild buffalo that migrate outside Yellowstone National Park, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said this week. The unpublished order Thursday held that the government was not required to reassess its Bison Management Plan containing killing methods, despite new information about herd habitat and genetic diversity.
The Western Watersheds Project and other environmentalists challenged the herd management plan adopted in 2000. It is set to expire in 2014.
The wild Bison are killed outside the park to limit contact with grazing cattle where they might pass on brucellosis.
In 2009, the groups challenged the practice but failed to win support in the Montana District Court.
“We hold that, pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act… the agencies were not required to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement,” the court wrote.
“WWP fails to show that new information concerning genetic diversity, changes in livestock grazing, the bison seroprevalence rate, development of a brucellosis vaccine, or risk of brucellosis transmission has affected the quality of the environment ‘in a significant manner to a significant extent not already considered.’”
It was signed by Judges John Noonan, Susan Graber and Johnnie Rawlinson.
Case: Western Watersheds Project v. Salazar, No. 11-35135