Brucellosis now confirmed in cows near Sublette County, WY elk feedlot

Brucellosis again in Wyoming, and, surprise, surprise, most likely from the nearby elk winter feedlot.

Brucellosis in Montana too, for the first time in a long while. it came from either elk or other cattle.

So what’s the government’s brucellosis policy directed toward? — killing thousands of bison.

Story in the Casper Star Tribune (with usual the typical scare tactics about human and other brucellosis). Tests confirm disease in cows in (WY) cows. By Chris Merrill.

One error that should be pointed out. The articles states: “Personnel at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory have confirmed that two black Angus cows from one Daniel herd were infected with what scientists call brucella abortus, a bacterium that causes animals such as bison, elk, cattle and swine to abort their fetuses, and can cause undulant fever in humans.” [boldface mine]

There are many kinds of brucellosis. Not just brucellosis abortis. Brucellosis in swine is brucellosis suis, a more dangerous disease. It is spread by feral pigs and its incidence is increasing in the United States because of spread of these non-native animals. Feral pigs, however, have a hunting constituency.

When they tell you brucellosis having been weaponized by the U.S. military back in the days of germ warfare (another scare tactic), it was suis that was weaponized.

Brucellosis suis has been discovered to persist outside of animals. Recent DNA sequencing shows it probably originated from plant pathogens Agrobacterium tumefaciens and can perhaps persist in the soil with the proper kind of plants.

You don’t get brucellosis without drinking raw milk from an infected cow, goat (yet another kind or brucellosis) or contact with raw, infected meat with cuts in your skin. Brucellosis will not kill you, but rather make you really sick.

If you get a zoonoses disease in Wyoming this summer that could kill you, think hantavirus or West Nile virus. Hantavirus claims another. Jackson Hole Star Tribune. June 17, 2008. The same is true for Montana, except they have a special and lethal tick disease unique to the Paradise Valley. Mysterious tick disease afflicts Montana

Just a few facts, Montana and Wyoming politicians won’t say so much about.

Interesting note. Limpy (wolf 253) was shot in the Daniel area at an elk feedlot.



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  1. TC Avatar

    Actually feral swine can be and are infected with Brucella abortus in the southeastern US, in addition to classic swine brucellosis (caused by infection with Brucella suis). See: for an example of these data.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Thank you, TC.

    I have to wonder why so little concern over feral swine as they all but wipe out Yellowstone’s bison herd?

    Of course, we know the answer because it’s not about brucellosis very much, but about power and privilege for certain occupations.

    Every disease of significance has its political component, and with brucellosis in the United States the political is far more significant than the medical or the veterinary.

  3. Ann Avatar

    I have to agree. The feral pigs are an even bigger threat because people ignore the fact that they do carry both the Brucella suis and Brucella abort. , and they are capable of transmitting to cattle. The ‘authorities’ keep lying, and covering up that fact. So again it comes down to is it really the disease they are so concerned about or the grass.
    There are no public land allotments where I live, and the Bison could help with fire reduction if they were allowed to eat the grass that nothing else is eating. Private property rights are ignored and our lives are put at risk because of the fire danger. The Disease is just the excuse they use to trespass on private land, and to lord over the public with the ‘iron-hand’ of Gvt. It’s time it came to a stop.

  4. Joycie Avatar

    Are there feral pigs around Yellowstone in Wyoming?? I have never heard of such a thing and am surpised to hear they could wipe out YNP bison herd? Maybe in lower elevations in MT?

    Also, Ralph M and others, I am curious as to why do you always call the feedgrounds “feedlots”? I have worked 4 yrs nearly every day between mid Nov to April-May w/ team and sleigh and never saw any crowding but instead an attempt to spread it out so each elk large and small had its chance. It’s not a conscientious elk feeder who would force such a concentration as the word “feedlot” brings up…or feeder of anything… yes, the elk are fed to keep them from heading into neighboring ranches’ and smaller landowners’ stored hay grain (which is why G&F has a crops compensation program for damages caused by big game and certain birds, and also with other agencies provides elkproof fence panels for ranchers, etc;

    Seems unfair to blame ranchers for these issues… The reason the elk don’t migrate is because THEY CAN’t… it’s humans who got in their way. Would you move your house so elk could return to winter range in the south desert??? Can you ask everyone else to move out of the way as well? Then maybe elk, deer, etc etc could get by and carry on like they once did. Human population is the reason for feedgrounds because we humans have taken away their ranges and their traditional migration routes. We can let them starve or we can try and help them through the winter. It is agonizing to watch an animal starve, even if it is a fact of life.
    PEOPLE are why we have feedgrounds. PEOPLE.

    The ranchers I know love the wildlife; they love the country; they love everything about it because it’s in their heart. they are good people would rather be able to feed elk than watch them starve or be shot because winter is extremely harsh where I live, and they do respect living things. Not just cattle.
    I have seen them break up over needless deaths of animals, of all kinds.

    “Hunting is to eat, beef is to sell…” is one way for those of us who work outside for very little $ get by. We are grateful for the meat and grateful to pay the bills. And personally I like elk better than beef…


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