Bluetongue spreads in Montana with high pronghorn mortality in places

Hunters advised on bluetongue death toll. By Mark Henckel. Billings Gazette Outdoor Editor







  1. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    WHAT? Bluetongue, found primarily in PRIVATELY OWNED LIVESTOCK, mostly sheep and occasionally in cattle, has been transmitted to Montana’s WILDLIFE? I propose Montana sell licenses for hunters to search out and kill, using fair chase ethics whenever possible, ALL privately owned livestock found on AMERICA’S public lands in Montana. 🙂

    Bluetongue: another good reason to remove privately owned livestock from AMERICA’S public lands.

    Let’s see… privately owned cattle transmitted brucellosis to Yellowstone wildlife in the early 1900’s. Now we kill buffalo that leave Yellowstone because they *might* transmit brucellosis to privately owned livestock? BS. The real reason is because ranchers want control of grass on AMERICA’S public lands outside Yellowstone. The brucellosis issue is a brilliant smoke screen on the part of the ranchers, I must say.

  2. Denise Johnson Avatar
    Denise Johnson

    MACK….you really sum things up and get-to-the point!
    Kudos to you! Appreciate all your input.

  3. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Why, thank you, ma’am. 🙂

  4. skyrim Avatar

    I agree. Perhaps it’s now time to revert to a less than moderate position that we’ve failed at. Take up arms against the bovine criminals. Throw that old rusted pair of side cutters back in the pack again.

    Here’s a dandy little piece of writing I found recently authored by Stephen Lyons:

  5. Pronghorn Avatar

    What say we all just quit eating livestock industry meat? No better way to bring that unethical, polluting, consumptive industry to its knees. (Growing and feeding crops to livestock requires 7 times the energy input of directly eating crops ourselves.)

    As for hunting cattle on public land using fair chase methods, you’d probably get more chase out of livestock than you do wild bison who are gunned down while they graze during Montana’s “fair chase hunt.”

  6. Dante Avatar

    I normally do not comment on very negative and biased threads as this one but you all make is sound like ALL ranchers are inconsiderate of the land, others and wildlife. However, the majority of ranchers are very honest, good natured, and honorable citizens just as you. There are a few bad apples but every organization has some, even environmentalist and conservationists. Instead of attaching and thrashing at every rancher and landowner it appears you should all whine to the Feds as they make the laws not the ranchers.

  7. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    The thread began as a comment on a livestock disease (bluetongue) passed to wildlife, and then proceeded to another livestock disease passed to wildlife, for which the wildlife are now persecuted (brucellosis).

    This doesn’t have anything to do with whether most ranchers are honest, good natured or honorable.

  8. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    Mack- You rock! Thanks for speakin’ up for Bison and the rest.

  9. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Why, thank you, sir…! 🙂

  10. Dante Avatar

    Ralph, that is true. However, you can by the tone of this thread that Mack and others have no respect whatsoever for ranchers whether or not they are honest and respectable.

  11. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Dante, you know not whereof you speak, and I deeply resent your remarks about me. I respect all people that are honest and respectable, ranchers or otherwise. I have no respect for ranchers or anyone else that does not appreciate nor seek the truth in all matters. That would include you.

    I propose that contributors to this blog cease personal attacks on others. That includes me…!

  12. Layton Avatar

    But “ceasing personal attacks” would almost completely disable the ability of some folks here to “contribute” 8^)

    Where can one find info about blue tongue being primarily a domestic livestock disease?? We had a BIG outbreak of it here in Idaho a couple of years ago – major whitetail mortality on the Salmon and Clearwater drainages – and the articles I read said it came from some sort of a fly at waterholes — there was no mention of the fly being a carrier from domestic critters to wild ones.


  13. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Layton, I looked it up in the Wikipedia.

    It seems to have orginated in Africa, or at least was first idenfiied there. It has spread to many tropical and even termperate zones, perhaps due to climate change.

    The Wikipedia says, “Bluetongue disease (also called catarrhal fever) is a non-contagious, insect-borne viral disease of ruminants, mainly sheep and less frequently of cattle,[1] goats, buffalo, deer, dromedaries and antelope. There are no reports of human transmission. It is caused by the Bluetongue virus.”

    It is spread by the bite of midges, but the lifecycle is not fully understood.

    It seems to show up in livestock first in new areas. It always seems to be pretty lethal, although there are now over 20 sub-types.

    At least that’s what I got from the article.


  14. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Layton, I can’t find my source that stated bluetongue was *primarily* a livestock disease – sorry. I didn’t keep it. I’ll keep looking. Hey, I didn’t make it up…!

  15. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    EVERYONE—- I think we could have a good and informative discussion if we can keep from assuming and being defensive. I think we can all agree that a website, such as this, is born out of issues that most people who post here are very passionate about.

    Anyway….. It seems that when animals, whether wild or domestic, are kept together in unnatural conditions, like cows and the elk farms, etc., that nature changes in various ways to bring back balance. ie. bluetongue, brucellosis, and others. What i know about mad cow disease, I do not think it qualifies, as it is a result of cows eating cows. And just a thought, but it is quite interesting how bacterium keep evolving rendering anti-biotics useless. There are other things i’ve noticed but aren’t in keeping with the subject here. One of the few subjects i haven’t studied would be topics relating to this B.T. article.

    I would appreciate anything you folks may know and/or being directed to info that I can study.

    Mack—[i am not a sir], and to your t.y. – you’re welcome.

  16. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    Whoops, sorry, d. Bailey Hill, ma’am…! And thanks again. 🙂

    It is my understanding (which differs from what you read on Wikipedia), that the origin of mad cow in the United Kingdom occurred when sheep that suffered scrapie (a brain disease of sheep) were turned into cow feed, and fed to cows, as opposed to originating from cows eating cows.

    The agent, prions, which are not alive (they have no RNA), are deformed proteins and when they contact normal proteins in the brain, they cause those proteins to become deformed, starting a chain-reaction and forming holes in the brain, thus the name spongiform encephalopathies – sponge-like brain diseases. The gentleman that discovered prions, Stanley Prusiner, won a Nobel Peace Prize for his discovery. Again, as I understand it, the prions from scrapie mutated in cattle and thus we have mad cow disease. In the United Kingdom, humans have eaten beef from “mad cows” and, as I understand it, the prion mutated yet again, killing almost 200 humans.

    Chronic wasting disease, found in ungulates, is yet another transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. It started when deer grazed over an old sheep operation outside Fort Collins, CO. Some sheep had scrapie; the agent (prions) found their way into the environment through saliva, urine, or feces falling on the ground, deer grazed over, picked up the prions (which are EXTREMELY hardy), and the prions mutated into the ungulate form. I believe the scientific consensus is that chronic wasting disease is spread through saliva. I interviewed the late Beth Williams, who discovered chronic wasting disease, and she told me the above. She was with U. of Wyoming and was one of the world’s lead researchers into the disease until she and her husband were killed in a highway accident.

    Ralph, if you’re reading this, I hope that in the very near future, you find and post a recent news article about chronic wasting disease. I have an idea I can’t wait to share… 🙂

  17. d. Bailey Hill Avatar

    Mack—Thanks for clarifying mad cow disease and also the extra info. Ms Williams probably has some published material? Could you direct me somewhere to find that? I am interested in learning more. [Technical and “heavy” reading is no problem.] Do you know if the s.e. diseases can remain dormant? I read some info, can’t remember where, alluded that “mad cow” has made it to North America. I know that certain daily assorted “events” are kept from the public. But in most cases i think it’s not nessessary, as it would probably freak out a lot of people or create a paranoia epidemic.
    Thank again!

  18. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    There was a recent article about CWD that was very alarming; the discovery that the CWD prions bound with the soil, enhancing their infectiousness. This means the areas where they occur may become permanently infected.

    This is a tremendous argument against things like winter feeding which concentrates ungulates in an area.

  19. Layton Avatar


    Thanx for the info.


  20. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    d. Bailey Hill, try these on for size:

    Ralph, if you will please post a link to a recent article, any article, about CWD, I’ll use it as a springboard for my cutting-edge idea. 🙂


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan