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Environment & Energy Report

Yellowstone Neighbors Sue Park Service Over Bison Hunting

Oct. 21, 2019, 9:27 PM

Allowing hunters to shoot Yellowstone bison in a narrow gulch just over the national park’s boundaries has put people in the area at risk, according to an Oct. 21 lawsuit filed in the District of Columbia.

The bison, because of the park’s high altitudes, must descend to lower winter feeding grounds, crossing park boundaries and losing hunting protections in the process.

Beattie Gulch is a bottleneck for the herds following the “easiest route” to those winter pastures, according to the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by a group called the Neighbors against Bison Slaughter. And the National Park Service’s approval of hunting bison in the tight confines of the gulch has put property owners, visiting renters, and local businesses in danger of stray bullets, the group alleges.

Hunting keeps the Yellowstone bison herds at a manageable size and can reduce the risk that farmers’ pastures will be damaged by the wild herds. But the 2019 Bison Management Winter Plan has unlawfully allowed hunters to shoot bison “mere yards” from nearby businesses and non-hunting individuals, the suit alleges.

The “Federal Agencies have foisted the dangerous and concentrated impacts of bison hunting” onto Beattie Gulch, which is a “tiny geographic area” with “a small group of residents and neighbors,” the group says.

The NPS is accused of arbitrarily and capriciously implementing the Yellowstone Bison Management Act and the Forest Service Land Management Act, and of failing to analyze the impact of connected actions as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

Causes of Action: National Environmental Policy Act, Administrative Procedure Act.

Relief Requested: Set aside the 2019 Winter Plan as unlawful; declare that NPS has violated the law; block the federal government from authorizing bison hunting on federal land within Beattie Gulch and within one mile of private residences; award costs and fees; give any other relief the court deems just or appropriate.

Response: The National Park Service didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys: Baker & Hostetler LLP and Jared Pettinato in Washington represent the Neighbors.

The case is Neighbors Against Bison Slaughter v. NPS, D.D.C., No. 19-cv-03144, complaint filed 10/18/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Porter Wells in Washington at pwells@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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