Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Montana Governor allows bison to roam outside Yellowstone National Park

BILLINGS, Mont. — "Wild bison will be allowed to migrate out of Yellowstone National Park and stay in parts of Montana year-round under a Tuesday move by Gov. Steve Bullock that breaks a longstanding impasse in a wildlife conflict that’s dragged on for decades."
Photo courtesy Neal Herbert, National Park Service

Bison in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley

Interesting headline, but as usual not without controversy. Ranchers of course will use the same excuse over and over such as grazing competition, but also that all important, "Bison are disease carriers"
"The move has been eagerly sought by wildlife advocates — and steadfastly opposed by livestock interests. Ranchers around Yellowstone are wary of a disease carried by many bison and the increased competition the animals pose for limited grazing space." 
"Yellowstone has one of the largest wild bison herds remaining in the world. Since the 1980s, more than 6,300 have been slaughtered and almost 1,900 killed by hunters, largely in response to fears over the spread of the disease brucellosis."
"Roughly half of the park’s bison test positive for exposure to the disease, which can cause pregnant animals to abort their young. No bison-to-cattle transmissions of brucellosis have been documented and most infections of cattle over the past decade have been traced to diseased elk. Yet it remains a major concern for ranchers who can find their operations stigmatized after an outbreak."
(Source)

The irony here is that it was originally the cattle brought in by white Europeans which infected Bison or the Buffalo at Yellowstone which seem to have an immunity to the Brucellosis disease. Of course 100+ years later no one remembers that nor wishes to. Some of the more interesting facts are that it has been tested under controlled lab conditions that Bison might possibly infect cattle, but never documented in the wild. Most likely possibility of infection they say as wild herds of Elk. This just continues to set up an on going never ending controversy of Ranchers versus Bison-Huggers forever.

Cartoon illustrator David Parkins


Interesting References on the disease and the Cattle versus Bison controversy
Buffalo Field Campaign: Brucellosis in Wild Bison Fact Sheet
USDA: Brucellosis and Yellowstone Bison
CDC: Transmission of Brucellosis from Elk to Cattle and Bison, Greater Yellowstone Area, USA, (2000-2012)
PBS: The Buffalo War: The Disease



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