Settlement Forces National Bison Range to Forge Conservation Plan by 2023
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a group called PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility) settled a lawsuit this week that focuses on a missing conservation plan for the National Bison Range. Though she’s not a public employee, Susan Campbel Reneau was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit.
"We asked that a suit be filed to demand that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service follow federal law and not allow a conservation plan to be sidelined," Reneau said. "There was an attempt by the Obama Administration to turn over the National Bison Range lock, stock and barrel."
A move in the twilight hours of the Obama presidency to transfer management of the National Bison Range to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) was stopped after Ryan Zinke became the Interior Secretary. While debates over management have continued, the Bison Range has operated without a conservation plan.
"No conservation plan for the National Bison Range has been put into place because of interference by the CSKT," Reneau said. "I have been following this case, literally, since 1994. This is the second lawsuit that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has lost, which once again tells them, you must follow federal law."
The agreement will force a Comprehensive Conservation Plan by January of 2023. PEER says it will now work on making sure federal employees are at work at the Bison Range, where they say full-time employees have dropped from 17 in 2003 to just four in 2018.