Target: Sally Jewell, Secretary of the Interior
Goal: Add our national mammal, the bison, to the protected list of endangered species before their numbers are depleted.
Bison near Yellowstone Park are being hunted in order to control their population and prevent the spread of a fatal disease known as brucellosis. If this hunting continues, the number of bison may dwindle. In addition, because healthy bison are restricted to a certain habitat, they are not given the opportunity to gain genetic diversity and may go extinct if they cannot repopulate.
Conservationist groups have come forward and filed a lawsuit against the Department of the Interior as a result. They have argued that the Interior, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is not doing enough to protect the number of bison in and around Yellowstone.
Before the West was discovered, about 60 million bison roamed North America’s grasslands. In the 19th century, by the time Yellowstone was created, their numbers had decreased to only about two dozen after the U.S. Army exterminated them. Since then, thanks to the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), their numbers have risen to 4,000 and the bison has become our national mammal.
However, their numbers are limited to only 4,000 in the Yellowstone Park. Under the IBMP, the bison near the park can be hunted. Hunting is used as a means of not only controlling the number of bison, but also as a method of preventing brucellosis, a fatal disease that forces pregnant female bison to abort their calves, from spreading between wild and captive bison. Also, because healthy bison are restricted to only a certain area, they are not given a chance to repopulate in a genetically diverse pool. This may lead to a quicker extinction of the animal.
While the number of bison in and around Yellowstone has risen substantially since the 19th century, the way in which the species is protected now is not in the best interest of their continued existence. Sign our petition to ask that the Department of the Interior take steps to better protect our national mammal.
Dear Ms. Jewell,
Recently, the wild bison became our national mammal. It has long been a symbol of the American West. Since the middle of the 19th century, their numbers at Yellowstone National Park have grown from two dozen to nearly 4,000. However, despite protections put in place, the wild bison may still face extinction due to legal hunting near the park, disease, and habitat restriction that prevents the mammal from acquiring genetic diversity.
I ask that the Department of the Interior, which has taken action to protect our wild species and natural areas for so long, take steps to better protect the wild bison so that what has become a symbol of America’s westward expansion be preserved for generations to come.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Jack Dykinga