Judge orders USFWS to re-examine bison ruling

Brett French

A U.S. District Court judge sided with bison advocates this week by ordering the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to revisit its decision regarding a denial of evidence submitted in an attempt to have Yellowstone National Park’s bison protected under the Endangered Species Act.

In a 33-page memorandum opinion, District of Columbia Judge Randolph D. Moss said he had no view on the ESA issue. Rather, he said the Fish and Wildlife Service had applied the wrong standard and failed to address a significant aspect of the question before it when it last denied the petitioners’ arguments.

“It is concerning, to be sure, that over seven years have now passed since the 2014 petition was filed,” Moss wrote. “But it remains unclear whether sufficient basis exists to proceed to the next stage of the ESA process, and in light of the substantial amount of work done to date, the Service should be able to answer that question promptly.”

Although the judge set no deadline for the Fish and Wildlife Service response, he did require the parties to file a joint status report within 90 days to update the court.

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