Intertribal Bison Co-op v. Babbitt
25 F.Supp.2d 1135 aff'd 175 F.3d 1149 (9th Cir. 1998)

  • Yellowstone National Park was home to a herd of bison. As the population grew, bison started leaving the park in search of food. This caused property damage on private lands outside the park, and increased the chance of bison spreading diseases to privately-owned cattle.
    • Despite these problems, the National Park Service (NPS) failed to establish an effective bison population management plan to keep the numbers at a sustainable level within Yellowstone.
  • Montana sued to get the Federal government to manage the bison. The suit was settled and NPS wrote an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and developed an Interim Plan.
    • The Interim Plan called for NPS to capture and/or kill bison that roamed off of Yellowstone, and to test bison for diseases.
  • Environmental groups (led by IBC) sued for an injunction.
    • IBC argued that the National Park Service Organic Act (16 U.S.C. 1) provided that the fundamental purpose of the NPS was to "conserve the scenery and natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein." Therefore NPS must protect and conserve the bison, not kill them.
    • NPS argued that part of its overall protection plan for the bison herd required it to occasionally kill a few individual bison.
      • NPS argued that they had the authority to determine whether selective removal of individual bison "protects and conserves" the bison herd.
      • NPS argued that 16 U.S.C. 3 provides that the NPS can destroy such animals as may be detrimental to the use of parks, monuments, or reservations.
  • The Trial Court found for NPS. IBC appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that NPS has the discretion to manage wildlife within the park, and to authorize the killing of individual animals if, in NPS's opinion, it would serve broader conservation goals.
      • The Trial Court found that NPS had a reason for making their decision, therefore it was not arbitrary and capricious and the Court would defer to Agency judgment.
        • See Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council (467 U.S. 837 (1984)).
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.