Two conservation groups asked the Obama administration on Thursday to provide Endangered Species Act protections for about 4,900 bison at Yellowstone National Park, where managers intend to cull the herd by 900 this winter.

Buffalo Field Campaign and Western Watersheds Project said in a petition to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that buffalo at the park that spans parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho make up part of the only free-roaming band in the country to retain its genetic integrity.

That compares to herds of bison elsewhere in the United States that contain domestic cattle genes and the 139 bison that originated at Yellowstone that Thursday were placed 13,000 acres (5,250 hectares) owned by an Indian tribe in northeastern Montana.