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Expanding the Territory for Yellowstone’s Bison

Bison and calf in Yellowstone National Park's Lamar Valley.

Each spring, bison migrate across the park's western boundary to get to lower elevation foraging areas—including Horse Butte—that provide the earliest new grass each spring.

Photo courtesy of Jim Peaco / NPS

What's at Stake

The Montana Stockgrowers Association and two other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit seeking to order the capture, hazing, or slaughter of bison in the Horse Butte area just outside the west boundary of Yellowstone National Park.

Case Overview

The Montana Stockgrowers Association and two other plaintiffs filed a state court lawsuit seeking to order the capture, hazing, or slaughter of bison (also known as buffalo) by a Montana state agency in the Horse Butte area just outside the west boundary of Yellowstone National Park.

In response to recent land management changes that have entirely eliminated cattle from Horse Butte, Montana has allowed more freedom of movement for bison that migrate into the Horse Butte area during the winter season.

Nevertheless, claiming a fear that bison will transmit a disease (brucellosis) to cattle, the stockgrowers and their allies asked a Montana court to order the state to continue to capture and kill bison under a plan that was developed when cattle still grazed on the butte.

Earthjustice intervened in this case on behalf of local landowners and conservation groups to stop the stockgrowers from reinstating a bison slaughter, and in 2010 the Montana court rejected the attempt to require the Montana Department of Livestock to haze, harass and slaughter all bison that cross the Yellowstone National Park boundary into the Horse Butte area.

Case ID

1792

Case Updates

August 2, 2010 | Feature

Court Rejects Hazing Assault on Yellowstone Bison

Bison that cross the Yellowstone National Park boundary into the Horse Butte area of Montana no longer must be hazed, harassed or slaughtered by the Montana Department of Livestock under an outdated bison management plan, according to a recent state court decision.

January 10, 2006 | Legal Document

Horse Butte Findings and Recommendations

A 15 page opinion, in which Judge John Facciola rules that livestock grazing on the Horse Butte allotment near Yellowstone National Park that has prompted continued slaughter of Yellowstone’s bison should be temporarily halted (May 13, 2002)

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