The Latest: Yellowstone bison get no vaccination or additional grazing land

  • A bison in Yellowstone National Park.

    CC via Flickr user Michael Matti

Yellowstone National Park's bison have long been prisoners, hazed back to the park or slaughtered whenever they head for lower winter range. That's because half the herd tests positive for exposure to brucellosis, an abortion-causing disease that ranchers fear will spread to cattle (although outbreaks around Yellowstone have been traced to elk). In 2011, however, agencies OK'd a plan to let the shaggy beasts roam from the park onto 75,000 acres of winter range near Gardiner, Mont. ("Yellowstone bison get more room to roam," HCN, 5/16/11).

In January, the Montana Board of Livestock rejected a proposal that would have opened additional lands to bison and let the bulls – which pose little risk of transmitting brucellosis – roam the Gardiner Basin year-round. Then park administrators nixed a controversial plan to vaccinate bison with "biobullets," claiming the alleged benefits didn't justify the cost. That means the slaughter and hazing will continue – and with the herd's population increasing by 9 percent annually, the problem won't go away.

Kyle Gardner
Kyle Gardner Subscriber
Feb 06, 2014 09:28 PM
The wild gets no break from the welfare crowd. How is it that a rinky-dink organization like the MBL can torpedo any and all efforts to give the bison even a little space? Their decision reflects the mindset running the show on so many levels - ignore scientific reality and push life into ever smaller corners. Outrageous, illegal, unethical. But that's what we have in the current situation, and operating on so many levels. Who speaks for the bison? How do we overturn the prevailing order to put bison in their rightful place and send the Board of Livestock and their ilk packing? The Interagency Plan is a cruel joke and needs to be replaced with a viable plan wherein the bison can live and prosper as a wild animal, acting on its own with no interference from humans. The brucellosis sham wins again - for now. Enough already! Where are the scientists, the policy makers, the friends of the bison?