To the south, bison and cattle coexist

  • Testing for brucellosis at the Stephens Creek bison corral

    Jim Peaco, NPS
 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

JACKSON, Wyo. - South of Yellowstone National Park near the Grand Tetons, cattle have grazed "nose-to-nose" with brucellosis-infected bison and elk for more than 75 years. How is it that this herd of nearly 300 bison that roams from Grand Teton National Park to the National Elk Refuge has not been part of the ruckus? Because both ranchers and environmentalists in Jackson Hole agree that no extreme measures are needed.

Instead, they say what works is the voluntary vigilance of local ranchers, who vaccinate their cattle, shoo away bison, and keep their livestock off the open range when elk are calving or migrating back to summer grasslands.

Clifford Hansen, former Wyoming governor and U.S. senator, says concern about brucellosis is largely unfounded.

But the federal agency APHIS is beginning to reach south to this herd, too. Its officials warned Wyoming last year that action had to be taken to retain its coveted brucellosis-free status, vital for shipping cattle out of the state. Agency proposals included testing free-ranging cattle, shooting bison and controlling the movement of elk during the winter.

Both ranchers and conservationists denounced that plan at a public hearing in November, saying it would cause more problems than it would solve. Ranchers like Hansen's grandson, Brad Mead, a Jackson attorney and heir to one of the largest cattle operations in the valley, say they don't want to draw the line against bison or elk because they realize that if it came to a choice between cattle or wildlife on public lands, cattle would probably lose.

Many area ranchers feared a crackdown on public-lands grazing in the wake of a 1991 lawsuit claiming that cattle belonging to a private ranch had been infected by wandering bison or elk from Jackson Hole. The issue was sidestepped when the judge ruled that the infection likely came from cattle.

After the November meeting, community members finally wrote to President Clinton for help. "An unreasonable agenda" was putting Jackson residents into a no-win situation, says Franz Camenzind, a wildlife biologist and director of the Jackson Hole Alliance for Responsible Planning. "We want to put the ecosystem on the table and tell the government that bison should be treated like every other species of wildlife, given access to public lands, and even hunted if need be, just like elk."

"I can think of no reason at all why these new rules from APHIS make sense," adds Hansen. "To my knowledge, none of us has ever had any problem with brucellosis."

High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT DIRECTOR
    Colorado Wild Public Lands (COWPL), based in Basalt, is an exciting nonprofit working to keep public lands open and accessible. Our growing organization is seeking...
  • BUSINESS SUPPORT ASSISTANT (PART-TIME)
    High Country News, an award-winning media organization covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks a part-time business support assistant to provide...
  • SOCIAL MEDIA AND DIGITAL ADVERTISING SPECIALIST
    The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA), Utah's largest conservation organization, has an immediate opening for a full-time Social Media and Digital Advertising Specialist. This position...
  • SPRING-FED PARCELS ON THE UPPER SAC RIVER
    Adjacent parcels above the Upper Sacramento river, near Dunsmuir. The smaller is just under 3 acres, with the larger at just under 15 acres. Multiple...
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Greater Yellowstone Coalition seeks a development professional to coordinate the organization's individual giving program. The position description is available at http://greateryellowstone.org/careers Please email a letter...
  • IDAHO STATE DIRECTOR
    The Wilderness Society is seeking a full time Idaho State Director who will preferably be based in Boise, Idaho. At least 8-10 years of experience...
  • COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER AND BEARS EARS EDUCATION CENTER MANAGER
    Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring for two positions. We seek a Communications Manager to execute inspiring and impactful communications...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Wilderness Volunteers Wilderness Volunteers (WV), a 24-year leader in preserving our nation's wildlands, is seeking a motivated person with deep outdoor interests to guide our...
  • HECHO POLICY AND ADVOCACY MANAGER
    Hispanics Enjoying Camping, Hunting, and the Outdoors (HECHO) was created in 2013 to help fulfill our duty to conserve and protect our public lands for...
  • FISHERIES BIOLOGIST
    Under the direct supervision of the Director of Shoshone-Paiute Tribe's Fish, Wildlife & Parks, in coordination with the Tribal Programs Administrator and the Tribal Chairman,...
  • REGIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR NORTHERN ROCKIES, PRAIRIES & PACIFIC REGION
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has grown into America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 53 state/territorial affiliates and more than...
  • STEWARDSHIP MANAGER
    STEWARDSHIP MANAGER Job Vacancy and Description Posted June 2, 2021: Open until filled The New Mexico Land Conservancy (NMLC) is a non-profit, regional land trust...
  • KSJD - MORNING EDITION HOST/REPORTER
    KSJD is seeking a host/reporter. Please see for www.ksjd.org for more information. EEO compliant.
  • ON THE EDGE OF CEDAR MESA/BEARS EARS
    Quiet, comfy house for rent in Bluff, Utah. Walk to San Juan River. Bike or hike to many nearby ruins and rock art sites. Beautiful...
  • CARPENTER AND LABORER WANTED.
    Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rain forest on the coast, Hike the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg meadows,...
  • PROJECT MANAGER
    Title: Project Manager Reports To: Program Director Salary Range: Negotiable; starting at $60,000 Location: Bend, OR The Deschutes River Conservancy seeks a Project Manager to...
  • PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Deschutes River Conservancy seeks a Program Director to join our dynamic team in restoring streamflow and improving water quality in the Deschutes Basin. WHO...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - TWISPWORKS
    Established healthy nonprofit in the Methow Valley of Washington state, TwispWorks is hiring the next Executive Director. Terrific opportunity to strive for our mission to...
  • BOARD DIRECTOR
    Help us achieve our mission of promoting excellence in the professional practice of wilderness stewardship, science and education to ensure the life-sustaining benefits of wilderness....
  • TEMPORARY FULL-TIME RANCH OPERATIONS ASSISTANT
    Twin Willows Ranch in Ocate, NM is seeking to immediately fill a Temporary Full-Time employment position as Ranch Operations Assistant for Facilities, Equipment, Land, and...