Bison sleek, but suspect

  • Message on billboard in Montana

  MONTANA


Bison sleek, but suspect


West Yellowstone, Mont. - It's been an easy winter for Yellowstone National Park's bison. Only 11 of the shaggy giants have been killed, a fraction of the nearly 1,100 that were shot or shipped to slaughter in the brutal winter of 1996-97.


Protruding ribs and jutting hip bones were bison hallmarks at this time last year. This spring the bison are sleek and fat.


Yet once the animals leave Yellowstone, their status remains uncertain, because some fear they could spread brucellosis to domestic cattle. Fighting the disease throughout the country has taken many decades and billions of dollars, and in the process, a sizable bureaucracy has been built, along with complex rules and regulations.


Most states are now "brucellosis class free," and Montana's chief veterinarian, Arnold Gertonson, wants to keep it that way. Gertonson recently wrote to the 49 other state vets, urging them to reject a new federal proposal of tolerance for "low-risk" bison that leave the park, such as bulls, non-pregnant females and calves. The proposal by the agency, the federal Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is a significant departure from its previous position, when it threatened to revoke Montana's hard-won brucellosis-free status if the state tolerated any possibly infected animals.


In urging a rejection of the newly relaxed attitude of APHIS, Gertonson said that if bison are allowed to leave the park, this equals a "de facto expansion" of the park's borders.


Mike Clark, director of the nonprofit Greater Yellowstone Coalition, says that as long as Montana insists on the need to kill bison leaving the park, there can be no satisfactory solution to the bison controversy that has divided Montanans for 20 years.


When APHIS softened its position, Clark added, "it found a way to loosen the noose around Yellowstone's bison. By rejecting APHIS" proposal, Montana is tightening the noose back up."


*Scott McMillion


High Country News Classifieds
  • WATER PROJECT MANAGER, UPPER SAN PEDRO (ARIZONA)
    Based in Tucson or Sierra Vista, AZ., the Upper San Pedro Project Manager develops, manages, and advances freshwater conservation programs, plans, and methods focusing on...
  • CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
    Southeast Alaska Conservation is hiring. Visit https://www.seacc.org/about/hiring for info. 907-586-6942 [email protected]
  • FINANCE & GRANTS MANAGER
    The Blackfoot Challenge, located in Ovando, MT, seeks a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to conduct bookkeeping, financial analysis and reporting, and grant oversight and management. Competitive...
  • WADE LAKE CABINS, CAMERON MT
    A once in a lifetime opportunity to live and run a business on the shore of one of the most beautiful lakes in SW Montana....
  • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BOOKS, CULTURE AND COMMENTARY (PART-TIME, CONTRACT)
    High Country News is seeking a Contributing Editor for Books, Culture and Commentary to assign and edit inquisitive, inspiring, and thought-provoking content for HCN in...
  • STATEWIDE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    ABOUT US Better Wyoming is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes Wyoming residents on behalf of statewide change. Learn more at...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    TwispWorks is a 501(c)3 that promotes economic and cultural vitality in the mountainous Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to North Cascades National Park in Washington...
  • CLEAN ENERGY ADVOCATE OR DIRECTOR
    Location: Helena, Montana Type: Permanent, full time after 1-year probationary period. Reports to: Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Travel: Some overnight travel, both in-state...
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Restore Hetch Hetchy, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, seeks experienced development professional to identify and engage individuals and institutions who are inspired to help underwrite...
  • PUBLIC LANDS COUNSEL
    The successful candidate will be the organization's lead counsel on public lands issues, including reviewing federal administrative actions and proposed policy and helping to shape...
  • HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR
    Solar Energy International (SEI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit education organization with a mission to provide industry-leading technical training and expertise in renewable energy to empower...
  • TRAINING MANAGER
    This is a full-time position based out of our Paonia office. This position is responsible for organizing all of Solar Energy International's renewable energy trainings....
  • RANCH HAND & HOUSING OPPORTUNITY IN DURANGO, CO
    Remodeled home with the opportunity to work off part of rent. Renter(s) must be available to help with lifting, irrigation & outdoor chores, 15-40 hrs...
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • 10 ACRES OF NEW MEXICO HIGH DESERT
    10 Acres of undeveloped high desert land in central NM, about 45 minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Mixed cedar and piñon pine cover. Some dirt roadways...
  • OPERATIONS DIRECTOR
    We are a Santa Fe-based nonprofit that builds resilience on arid working lands. We foster ecological, economic, and social health through education, innovation, and collaboration....