America's largest band of wild bison can roam public lands outside its home at Yellowstone National Park without facing certain slaughter, under an agreement reached by U.S., state and tribal leaders on Wednesday.

The plan allows bison, also known as buffalo, to range on more than 330,000 acres (135,000 hectares) of public lands in Montana, said Stephanie Adams, Yellowstone program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association.

The deal is a step toward ending part of a 16-year program during which thousands of bison were rounded up and ultimately slaughtered after wandering outside the boundaries of the park, which spans parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho.