NYT: "The sorry myth of brucellosis"

While it doesn’t directly address “the deal,” “the breakthrough,” the NYT just printed The Sorry Myth of Brucellosis.

The editorial is about Wyoming, not bison and Montana, but the media are starting to notice the connection between brucellosis and the dominance of the livestock industry.



  1. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    To my knowledge, this is the first time, either in the national or regional press, that the mainstream press has accurately addressed the miserable politics of brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

    I applaud the NYT for having the courage to go against the grain of the agrarian/multiple-use ideology that wants to “fence in Yellowstone” regardless of the costs–in this case, an epidemic of chronic wasting disease on Wyoming’s elk feedgrounds and the National Elk Refuge, an epidemic that will spread to Idaho and Montana.

    I hope activists spread this editorial far and wide; the next step is to hammer the regional press to accurately report what is happening with the elk and bison in Wyoming and Montana, instead of merely parrot the false claims of government agencies and the livestock industry.


  2. jimbob Avatar

    Good article. At least it exposes some of the motives and culprits. Too bad you can’t get Wyoming papers to do some real journalism. New York is too far away and probably many people there don’t care about Wyoming because they will never live there or don’t understand the consequences. I’m sick of Wyoming. I miss the state and will miss my trips there this summer, but I refuse to spend a dime there.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The thing about the New York Times is that national political and economic leaders read it.

    Articles like this make it more likely that when APHIS comes to Congress are asks for money to combat this horribly dangerous disease, a congressional staffer will have briefed his or her boss, the committee chairperson, or whomever, and a skeptical hearing will follow.

  4. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    In addition, once the NYT has addressed an issue, it is more likely that the regional press will have to address i–it’s a kind of cascading effect. I know for a fact that a Wyoming news organization is now going to take this issue up, based upon the NYT editorial.


  5. brock Avatar

    Wow Impressive article. Especially compared to their rather confused and off target one on wolves.

  6. Wyomingite Avatar

    Yes…finally…western isssues in the national spotlight!!! I certainly hope this is the begining. Perhaps the presidential campaign will also weigh in on some western issues!?!

    That being said, I think there were some hefty errors in the NYT article. First and formost, the author (who was it anyway?) forgot to mention that brucellosis is one of the most significant zoonotic diseases worldwide. Through an established federal plan it has taken the United States over 70 years (and billions of $) to erradicate brucellosis from cattle herds. In terms of elk and bison and brucellosis – if shutting feedgrounds down is the best answer, why do we have such high prevalence in non-feedground elk and bison???

    As with CWD…”No one knows whether chronic wasting disease infects cattle (or humans), but among deer and elk it is always fatal.” Whoa folks…this is misleading!!! There is NO evidence to support that CWD is transmissible to cattle or humans.

    While I am certainly a proponent of phasing out feedgrounds in Wyoming, it should be based on sound science and thoughtful management, NOT the rhetoric used in this NYT article.

  7. TC Avatar

    It’s an interesting editorial, but it does lack some credibility due to inaccuracies and extrapolations not based on good science. First of all, while feedgrounds unquestionably do contribute to maintaining high brucellosis seroprevalence in elk of the southern GYA, there are several elk herds in the northern GYA, not winter fed, that have alarmingly high seroprevalence rates that cannot be blamed on feedground concentration. We don’t know all the factors that contribute to maintaining high seroprevalence (and thus, conceivably, tranmission rates) in elk – Yellowstone NP bison for example are an unknown player in this equation. Second of all, to characterize the spread of CWD across Wyoming as “fast” certainly is inaccurate. It’s actually been quite a slow spread taken in context of infectious disease epidemiology. Somewhat inexorable, yes, but not fast. And finally, there are no good data to support a presumed CWD prevalence of 40-80% in elk in the GYA once the diseae gets there, even elk on feedgrounds. There are several research projects ongoing that are trying to get a better handle on this, but for now, nobody knows, and nobody can claim to know. Data taken from captive elk farms with CWD is NOT translateable here. Good to raise the questions, but not so good to claim to know the answers when in fact nobody has ’em.


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Ralph Maughan