Yellowstone Bison

Bison Update: Lone Bull Killed, While Quarantined Herd Draws Interest

The bison was killed out of fear that he would spread brucellosis onto the cattle in the preserve. This fear is what led to the Interagency Bison Management Plan, which has led to over 3,500 wild bison being slaughtered since 2000.

The killing was witnessed by Darrell Geist, a habitat coordinator for the Buffalo Field Campaign, an organization that works to prevent the slaughter of American buffalo. He said that the bull’s journey out of Yellowstone is part of a ancient migration plan. He said that, “For the past several years, we’ve seen bison attempt to access their native habitat in Idaho only to be met with a bullet.” He fears that both Idaho and Montana have a prejudice against the wild bison population.

Brucellosis is a cattle disease that causes females to abort their young, and can decimate a herd. There have been no documented cases of bison transferring the disease over to cows, and bulls, like the one killed Wednesday, are incapable of transmitting the disease.

Meanwhile, a quarantined herd of Yellowstone National Park bison — some quarantined since 2005 — may find a new home after a Chicago zoo and a Montana American Indian tribe express interest in the four dozen animals.

The bison have been quarantined in Corwin Springs after wandering away from Yellowstone. Many of the bison leaving the Park in the 2005-2007 time period were slaughtered; these are the survivors. You can guess the reason for the quarantine: the fear that they will spread brucellosis to local cattle, though multiple tests have failed to detect any bison carrying the brucellosis virus.

Though the bison aren’t welcome back in the park, several groups have stepped forward and expressed interest in housing them. The Brookfield Zoo in suburban Chicago, the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in central Montana and a private landowner in Fargo, N.D.

Whether they will be moved is up for some debate; local cattlemen want the bison to be slaughtered on the off chance brucellosis is present in any of the bison. What a life: you wander outside of Yellowstone Park and are confined to a small area in Corwin Springs, with local cattlemen calling for your slaughter. There’s got to be a more humane approach.

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