-I've got two words for this plan: it stinks," said Page McNeill, chair of the Wyoming chapter of the Sierra Club, at a recent public meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Criticism of the draft management plan for
the Yellowstone National Park bison herd (HCN, 7/6/98) came fast
and furious at the Aug. 10 meeting, where more than 30 people
attacked the Park Service's $30 million plan to quarantine,
vaccinate and reduce the herd.
During the harsh
winter of 1996-'97, bison poured out of the park in search of
winter foraging grounds. Because many bison are infected with
brucellosis, more than 1,000 migrating bison were killed near the
park by state and federal officials, sparking a national
Although there are no documented
cases of brucellosis transmission from bison to livestock, ranchers
fear the state will lose its "brucellosis-free" status - a federal
stamp of approval allowing livestock to be sold outside the state -
if the disease is not completely eliminated from the park's
wandering bison herd.
"Brucellosis infection is
an example of the park's non-management," Robert Hendry, vice
president of the Wyoming Stockgrowers Association, told the crowd.
"Management does not mean letting things manage themselves."
Many environmentalists at the meeting said
elimination of the disease is impossible. Instead of shooting
wayward animals and using an unproven vaccine, they said, the park
should reduce the risk of transmission by acquiring more winter
range for bison.
"Risk management, not
brucellosis eradication, is more realistic," said David Ditloff of
the Wyoming Wildlife Federation.
resident Geneen Haugen reminded the park - and the industry - to
heed the concerns voiced at the meeting. "This is an issue of heart
and emotion," she said. "Public opinion is a greater threat to the
livestock industry than brucellosis will ever be."
Written comment on the plan will be accepted
until Oct. 16. Send to Sarah Bransom, Interagency Bison Management
Plan, DSC-RP, P.O. Box 25287, Denver, CO