State vets plan to eliminate brucellosis in Yellowstone bison

State vets plan to elminate brucellosis in Yellowstone bison. By Alden Downing, Channel 8 television. Billings, MT

How f–king stupid can you be and hold an office like this!!??

I debated the Idaho State vet once (a different person than the current one). The guy was dumb as mud, and I’ve not bragging about my intelligence when I say that.

The primary brucellosis problem is in the elk, not the bison. Every case of transmission to cattle has come from elk; none from bison.

Tests of the infection rate show that it is far higher south of Yellowstone Park in Wyoming, not inside the Park, and among the bison the big infection rate is the Jackson Hole bison, not the Yellowstone Park bison.

Elminate brucellosis from the bison and the infection in elk will hardly drop. It is the Wyoming elk feedgrounds that perpetuate the disease. All but the Montana brucellosis infection is a cow was clearly associated with winter feeding of elk near cattle.

The vets don’t dare touch this. Therefore, they suggest this offensive nonsense that will be as effective as sacrificing a virgin to a volcano.  In fact it is based on the same kind of thinking — conducting a ritual (killing or vaccinating) the bison with their ineffective vaccine with cause a change when there is no reason to expect a change except when you engage in magical thinking.




  1. kim kaiser Avatar

    y not just get it over with and just kill off the bison in the park, save a lot of money, then there would be nothing to worry with and we can just get out of there way and move on to something to a battle one can win..

    Ralph, you gonna get a spanking for using those bad words.!!

  2. Catbestland Avatar

    Does anyone have any estimation as to what percentage of the park bison might carry the disease? I’m sure that a large majority of the ones that survived the last unwarranted slaughter would be killed. I don’t see how there would be enough left over to maintain a viable gene pool. This is sickening.

  3. buffalorunner Avatar

    This is very bad news if you are one the few remaining Yellowstone bison fortunate enough to survive the draconian management actions imposed by the state and federal agencies this past winter, and the severe winter conditions which may have resulted in an unanticipated high winter-kill, possibly reducing this popualtio9n below the conservation threshold. Dobson & Meagher (1996) demonstrated that unacceptably high levels of culling would be required to eradicate brucellosis and require a drastic population reduction down to about 200 animals. Would they seriously consider going this far?? The public would not find this acceptable!! Also, there is NO literature to back up their claim that brucellosis eradication in bison would reduce prevalence in elk. I dare these Vets to produce any peer-reviewed scientific study to support their flawed reasoning.

  4. Buffaloed Avatar

    According to past studies:

    “In the 1991-1992 samples from Yellowstone, 240 bison were serotested and 218 were bacteriologically cultured. Of these, 37 percent produced a serotest response but only 12 percent of these cultured positives.” This is an effective rate of 4.4% as long as the culture tests are accurate. Since only pregnant females can transmit the disease you can cut that number way down again so essentially you have a very small number of animals that can transmit. You can go even further than that and factor in how many of those pregnant females which are infected actually leave the Park and can possibly intermingle with cattle and you have an even smaller number still.

    The cattlemen say that bison are the reason that the disease is maintained in elk but I doubt that it is the primary cause. Elk can certainly infect each other.

    Another interesting point made in the document is this:
    “there is not one reported incident of brucellosis transmission through normal coitus by an infected bull.”

    It appears that the GYIBC, who hosts this document, uses this information to justify killing bulls because it says that “the risk of transmission from bull bison, though logically small, cannot be entirely eliminated based on existing information.” Judgement does not appear to be part of the decision making process for these people.

  5. JB Avatar

    “It appears that the GYIBC, who hosts this document, uses this information to justify killing bulls because it says that “the risk of transmission from bull bison, though logically small, cannot be entirely eliminated based on existing information.” Judgement does not appear to be part of the decision making process for these people.”

    Of course, the same could be said about the risk of being struck by a meteorite while out walking. Perhaps we should advocate for a Federal program to eliminate this risk as well?

  6. kim kaiser Avatar

    all i can say is despite the other hazards of warm winters, i hope this year is a warm one,,so they simply wont leave

  7. Catbestland Avatar

    It won’t matter if they leave or not. They intend to test the bison within the park and destroy all those who test possitive.

  8. Brian Ertz Avatar

    JB says:

    Of course, the same could be said about the risk of being struck by a meteorite while out walking. Perhaps we should advocate for a Federal program to eliminate this risk as well?

    Click it —> Target Earth 😉

  9. natehobbs Avatar

    I read this article late last night Ralph and was equally as livid. I was especially annoyed at the news outlets horrible article making it sound like a grandized great plan and not being fair and balanced about the whole thing
    “Good News for Ranchers” Yeah right, the diesease will still continue to be transmitted. No body wins in this plan.

    So what can be done to turn the tides? Im getting really fed up about this

  10. JB Avatar


    All I can say is I hope NASA can find “10 impossibly good looking people” to do the job, as at least this will give the news media something to point their cameras at; they appear incapable of anything else. 😉

  11. vicki Avatar

    Okay, I haven’t commented in quite a while, but I can’t take it….
    Recently confirmed cases of the desease were confirmed to have been transmitted by other friggin’ cattle! Not elk, not bison, so what the heck!
    Furthermore, we cannot state that elk do not give the desease to bison, or vice-versa, because we have no containment of a species to verify that with! Talk about lack of science, these morons take the prize for least intellegent educated members of society (well, they are atleast in the top 5.)
    Let me also say that if they are to EVER find a cure, they’d have to have availability or serum which is positive for antibodies, and use that to develop said cure. That serum would need to be from the most recent source possible to be a current mutation. I’d say that catching bison to gain this serum would be far simpler than catching a bunch of elk.

    You have to gain immunity to contain the spread of any desease you plan to eliminate. SImply saying we can keep bison from breeding (contraception isn’t 100 percent in humans, let alone bison), or we can kill all those who test positive (which the pronderance of would be immune and not in active deseased state) is complete idiocy. It seems to me that it’d be easier for them to kill all the bulls, which they elude to in my opinion. That would be a sure fire way to stop breeding and to keep bison from grazing outside the park, which is the real issue.
    I can’t believe this lunatic went to med school.
    Socially acceptable, even in their definition, will never be achieved in this matter.
    Social acceptance is a joke anyhow, a third of society is ignorant to the facts, a third is completely greed driven and selfishly promote social acceptance as support of cattle owned governments (Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho) and the third that actually has knowledge and seeks the greater good is quickly shot down by the corruption of the previous third-which includes elected officials who have no moral or ethical conscience what so ever.
    If they really want to contain brucellosis, they need to remove cattle from public lands, and contain them to areas with large fences surrounding private land that elk will not have access to. But hey, then what would they blame it on when they still had the desease? God knows they’d never be honest enough to admit the problem is with their own cows….not AMERICA’S wildlife.
    About the only shred of knowledge or intellegence that you could find in this is was the mention of closing feeding grounds for elk.

  12. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Vicki Said

    “Recently confirmed cases of the desease were confirmed to have been transmitted by other friggin’ cattle! Not elk, not bison, so what the heck!”


    Can you point me in the right direction that shows 100% confirmation that the latest infections were from cattle to cattle? Are you talking about the Wyoming outbreak of the latest Montana Outbreak?

    I have not seen the information that it was confirmed cow to cow transmission.

    Thank you..

  13. vicki Avatar

    Save Bears,
    I should have said it is 100% obvious, not 100% confirmed. However, if you look back on this site, you can see that state vets and other sources indicate that it was exposure to other cattle (some from Iowa I believe) that was the only link they could find to the positive cattle. It indicates that the cattle that tested positive were exposes via these cows….but in no way were they ever exposed to wild bison. That is more specifically the point. Well, that and the need for ranchers to acknowledge their personal responsibility in all of this. It is time for cows to be off of public lands, and the cattle should be confined to private land with large enough fences to keep wild animals out. That would leave no room to blame bison or elk for brucellosis. But that would also eliminate cheap grazing for ranchers too, there in lies the real issue.
    So sorry about that.

  14. Buffaloed Avatar


    Actually the cattle that tested positive were cattle from Montana that were sent to the midwest to be slaughtered where they were tested. There is no confirmation of where the brucellosis came from yet but Corriente cattle from Texas or Mexico have been considered by some as a possible source. That being said, it is still possible that both herds could have come into contact with infected material from elk.

    If you ask Marion she will say that it was from wolves by way of birds by way of the Gila Monster. 😉

    The Montana transmissions likely occurred in Montana and the same for Wyoming.

  15. vicki Avatar

    Perhaps, however….Gila Monsters or no (ha, you know they are so fast that they chased the cows down!!!)….it was certainly not by way of a bison.
    Darn those wolves for growing feathers, flying down and plopping out their aborted fetal material.

  16. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    And, here’s the thing … even if it were caused by bison – and in these cases, it’s obviously not – I’d say so freaking what? The cattle industry needs to go away.

    But, we can’t build coalitions very easily with talk like that in these parts. Still, I’m not afraid to say that’s what I believe.

    It’s kind of like the war in Iraq; most of us would have opposed it even if Saddam Hussein had acquired the greatest arsenal of WMDs that the world had ever seen. That he didn’t have them was simply icing on the cake.

    So it goes with bison and brucellosis – one day, some buffalo may cause brucellosis. It does absolutely nothing to the argument that the slaughter and hazing must stop and that habitat must be allowed to increase. Not because buffalo aren’t a threat to a particular way of life but because there’s nothing in that way of life that justifies imprisoning buffalo.

    vicki, by the way, some preliminary announcements for June 26 have gone out. I’ll update you all more by email.

  17. Catbestland Avatar

    Wow, check out the comments. This the first time I have ever seen 100% opposition to nonsensicle plans such as the one proposed by the Zaluski. But then Marion hasn’t made her appearance yet.

  18. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    You guys keep mentioning Marion, which is not pertinent to this conversation…I correspond with her quite often, and I don’t see her backing this plan either, and her and I disagree with each other on most things..

    And to add, I have done some research, and albeit small there is evidence that predators in the right situation can transmit brucellosis, again, a small chance, what I found more troubling is how long the viability of the germ can be outside the body of the host animal, that was eye opening..

    And again, I am 100% behind the bison, and 100% against the public ranching as well as the Montana Stock Growers Association…

  19. steve c Avatar
    steve c

    Would they actually dare to haze and test bison within the park?

    I sent a letter to the Montana state vet complaining about the bison situation a couple years ago and included a copy of the veterinarian’s oath. It is amazing how little it applies (except for the conservation of livestock resources part).

    “Being admitted to the profession of veterinary medicine, I solemnly swear to use my scientific knowledge and skills for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of livestock resources, the promotion of public health and the advancement of medical knowledge.

    I will practice my profession conscientiously, with dignity and in keeping with the principles of veterinary medical ethics.

    I accept as a lifelong obligation the continual improvement of my professional knowledge and competence.”

  20. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    Well, they do test and haze bison within the park – officially at the Stephens Creek facility. In fact, if you read press releases closely, bison were captured at Stephens Creek for merely approaching the park boundary.

    And, unofficially, I’ve personally seen bison “hazed” by snow plows during the winter far from the park boundaries.

  21. sal Avatar

    When you start vaccinating wildlife and treating it like cattle, is it really WILDlife anymore??????

  22. sal Avatar

    And this is starting to wreak of something that needs higher level federal & PUBLIC attention NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. JB Avatar

    “When you start vaccinating wildlife and treating it like cattle, is it really WILDlife anymore?”

    I think this is a very interesting question! What is the definition of wild-life? Personally, I believe wildlife are simply animals that are not owned by people. By this definition, feral pigs and cats are also “wildlife,” though not necessarily native nor desirable wildlife. Still, its the best definition I can come up with. Anyone else?

  24. Salle Avatar


    I always thought that wildlife was defined by conditions such as;

    Indigenous fauna that is not contained (fenced in or housed), fed, or managed by humans such as medicating or controlled breeding practices-as with dogs, cats and cattle.

    Something you should leave be in its natural environment.

  25. JB Avatar


    What do you call a non-native (or non-indigenous) species that is not domesticated (e.g. European starling or the red fox in CA)?

    Also, if management by humans is a cause for excluding a group of critters as wildlife, I’m afraid there’s not much wildlife left in this country! (As an aside, the wolves that were originally reintroduced to YNP were vaccinated and given veterinary care.)

    Not trying to be a pain; I was just surprised by how hard it was to come up with definitive criteria for determining what constitutes wildlife.

  26. Salle Avatar

    Agreed it’s a tough definition to uphold because we like to split so many hairs…
    Non-native species that are not contained/housed etc are known as “exotic wildlife” because they came from elsewhere but are now part of the localized landscape. Same with plants like the ubiquitous eucalyptus trees in California.

    Not a pain, keeps my brain engaged in independent cognitive functions.

  27. Salle Avatar

    I was discussing this very topic with a business owner in West Yellowstone recently and their comment was, “Cattle just needs to go, period.”

    I was a little surprised but had to admit that I feel the same way.

  28. JB Avatar

    Great to hear that perspective from a West Yellowstone business person–gives me hope!

  29. Salle Avatar

    Kim Kaiser,

    “[Wh]y not just get it over with and just kill off the bison in the park, save a lot of money, then there would be nothing to worry with and we can just get out of there way and move on to something to a battle one can win..?”

    Good point, I think that’s the intention of the cattle industry…

  30. kim kaiser Avatar


    I hope you know that comment was with eyes rolling,,,I sat here in gardiner all winter watching the bison roll out of the park 20-30 at a time, day after day,, to there death… one thing to read about it,, anthother to sit and watch it happen.

    however, it does seem not matter how many inroads are made, they are jsut so small, and the bison lose time after time after time….

  31. vicki Avatar

    Kim and Salle,
    I know it is a bit of a cliche, but women in the USA fought for how many years, battle after battle, to get to vote. (There are numerous historically accurate examples of long fights that ended well.)
    I stopped posting for a while becuase I felt a huge sense of heaviness and was lost in sadness about all of the fights we talk about here. It can become you, ya know? So I took a step back to breathe and figure out what I could focus on to remain positive.
    I am positive that there is always hope. There are so many voices here that can speak out against what is going on with bison, with wolves, with environmental issues in general. I know it is hard to stay focuses on the goal ahead, when you can feel you are being pulled down by your neck from behind.
    The inroads you see being made are just part of a large grid, and eventually you will see progress. Those inroads are in actuality a map, that leads to the ultimate location….success. We can’t help bison, or ourselves for that matter, if we allow ignorance and corruption to stop us from fighting the good fight. Keep hoping, keep spreading the word, and keep perspective. If we feel this way, imagine how the ranchers feel knowing that their image and hold on the world is being changed forever. Everyday there is atleast one more person who becomes informed and sees that what is happening is wrong, another chink in the armour…another step toward their defeat.
    That has to be a heavy burden for them to carry, atleast we can say we want what is right for the majority of the world, and not just for our selves.

  32. Indamani Avatar

    I agree with Vicki, we need to spread the word and keep moving forward, even though at times we feel like we are fighting a losing battle. I, for one, wouldn’t have been made aware of the plight of Yellowstone’s wild bison if it hadn’t been for Defenders of Wildlife. The more people we can get on our side, we have a better chance of winning the battle and liberating the wild bison. I’ve been to Yellowstone a couple of times and was totally captivated by the uniqueness of this ecosystem. But I’ve made a promise that I would not visit that place again until the bisons are allowed to roam free again. Meanwhile, I will do everything I can to spread the word.

  33. Salle Avatar

    If I hadn’t the capacity to step back when needed to catch my breath, I’d have killed myself by now. i watch this crap from the west gate and it’s so ugly… Not only that, I have to work in the service industry where I actually have to cordially serve these sh*tferbrains at times. THAT IS HARD TO DO… without serving their coffee into their laps rather than their coffee cups.

  34. vicki Avatar

    YOu have great fortitude. I don’t know that I could refrain.

  35. Salle Avatar

    Ha!! If people only knew….

    Ya gotta have a sense of humor or you can’t make it.

  36. vicki Avatar

    Perhaps when I am next in W.Yellowstone I will drop by your work, and bump into you… literally! I’ll cal ahead to make sure the timing pans out! HA! That should give you a few days of chuckle filled amuzement. Just joking, ofcourse.
    Maybe hot coffee in the lap is to having there heads implanted as alchohol is to a tick? We may never know.

  37. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    Well, I know this is going to be posted on the site, but they really are going to go after Yellowstone elk – at least that’s their intention. Some of the hunters who were at our Monday meeting in Bozeman I never would have guessed would support bison advocacy; after this, I can’t imagine many of the others will be that far behind.


  38. vicki Avatar

    Well there is no suprise here.
    The ranching industry is showing it’s true intentions. Now their good ol’ boy network is ever shrinking.
    Let’s just move all the cattle out of Wyoming and the public lands in general.
    If they were all conatined to fenced private land…no risk of bison or elk exposing them.

  39. kim kaiser Avatar

    this just posted on fox news.,2933,376870,00.html

    hee hee,, and now the outfitters are crying foul against these plans,,,,

    here are some of the excerpts from one livestoct person and an outfitter..

    We’ve got way too many elk,” said John Scully, a rancher living in Montana’s Madison Valley. “Clearly with so many elk, the risk rises. We need to reduce their numbers.”


    A tentative proposal, drafted by federal officials, sets a goal of eliminating the disease — not just controlling it in bison and in elk.

    Livestock officials say infected elk herds around Yellowstone must be culled — an explosive proposition for a prized big game species that has thrived under the protection of a dedicated constituency of hunting groups. Nevertheless, pressure is mounting to kill or capture more of the animals.

    Outfitters and hunters are digging in against the prospect of killing elk, concerned that too much culling could shrink herds. They contend wildlife managers should focus on vaccinating cattle or eradicating the disease in bison.

    “I will fight that tooth and nail. As a sportsman, those wildlife are a public resource,” said Bill O’Connell of the Gallatin Wildlife Association.

  40. kim kaiser Avatar

    but I thought from the DOL of MT,, that it was the BISON that was such a threat and many millions to be spent on BISON,, and now this!!!ITS THE ELKS FAULT!!! these people dont know whether to S–t or go blind!!!!!

  41. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    It does come from the elk, who were originally infected by cattle; or cattle, then bison, then elk. These guys are way overstepping on this minor inconvenience.

    A year ago, too many wolves were decimating the elk. Now there are too many elk.

    There is only one constant from the Western livestock industry, get rid of wildlife! Oh, and give me a subsidy!

  42. kim kaiser Avatar

    It will be interestin to see how it pans out and what type of spin mode the dol and the wy equiv will use to put this all back on bison and wolves,,,

  43. Seth Avatar

    Put it on the US, not on any animals, we are the ones who developed it for biowarefare…gave it to cattle then it got out from there. We are responsible for fixing it. The animals are the innocent bystanders whaterver we must do to them. Why does everyone get pissed off at the animals? Humans are the problem, we can’t even manage ourselves.

  44. Salle Avatar

    Ditto to what Seth said, and then some.


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Ralph Maughan