Study: Chance of brucellosis transmission posed by roaming bison is low

Scientific study pretty much says Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP) is a waste of money-

For those of us not connected with the cattle industry the results of this paper coming out in the Journal of Applied Ecology are hardly surprising, but for the cattle bureaucrats it should be a real wake up call.

Study: Chance of brucellosis transmission posed by roaming bison is low. By Matthew Brown. AP. Casper Star Tribune.



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  1. Jon Way Avatar

    “Fewer than 1,000 cattle graze in areas where Yellowstone’s bison typically migrate, Kilpatrick said. That number drops to fewer than 300 head in the winter”
    This is unbelievable, as we all know. But the peer-reviewed paper is now grounds for lawsuits to stop this waste both in terms of money wasted on it by tax-payers and obviously b.c of the many dead bison.

  2. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Although one paper in and of itself isn’t enough on which to base a lawsuit, there is a suite of papers, published, in the hopper, or in the works that point to the severe damage current brucellosis management is doing to the Yellowstone bison population and also make recommendations on how to deal with this. This paper is one of those.

    This paper points to the primary solution–habitat. Note that the livestock industry opinion, stated in the above news article by APHIS veterinarian Jack Rhyan, is that the goal of bison management is to eradicate brucellosis, and that providing habitat is a short term goal only and ultimately ineffective. This assumes that disease is the problem and that the only way to deal with it is the expensive “tech-vet” approach of the IBMP.

    It is not; disease is a consequence of intensive, tech-vet (bad) management and severely restricting bison habitat as well as disrupting bison social structure.

    It also assumes that there are no ecological, natural regulation management options for dealing with disease. This is incorrect. Rhyan exemplifies the typical civilized bias toward the stick ’em, bleed ’em, drug ’em, or slaughter ’em approach that has done so much damage to wild and domestic animals alike.

    The real problem for the livestock industry is that providing habitat to bison means taking it away from cattle.

    In other words, it isn’t diseased bison that are a threat to cattle and the livestock industry. It’s wild, free-roaming bison that are a threat to the livestock industry. Habitat thus, for conservationists is both a means and an end. It’s an end because the protection, restoration, and expansion of habitat is good in and of itself. It’s also a means because providing habitat is also a way to whittle down the control the livestock industry wields over land use and wildlife management. Dedicating habitat to wildlife means it isn’t dedicated to livestock. That’s the key.


  3. Tom Woodbury Avatar

    Backing up Robert’s point is this recent comment from MT FWP Commissioner Vic Workman: “[t]he issue in the bison controversy is not brucellosis, but whether bison should be kept off rangeland that livestock producers want for their cattle.” From AP Article by Susan Gallagher (12/13 Missoulian) “FWP Commission approves bison on ranch”)

    It’s good that the truth is now being exposed, as it allows for a more honest public debate on this issue. The question is simple, really. What do the majority of Montanans want on their public lands – free roaming bison, or public welfare cows? I think maybe we should put it to a vote.

  4. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    Thanks for the reference; it is a breath of fresh air to actually hear from someone in government what the nature of the beast is. However, unfortunately the decisions are still being made in favor of cattle.

    A number of initiatives are under way to get the public at the grass roots level to understand that the so-called brucellosis problem is actually the brucellosis fraud. If we can get the public to think of brucellosis management as a fraudulent program designed to maintain and increase livestock industry control over bison and elk, then we’ll have base of support to end the slaughter and the abuse of bison and elk in the GYE.


  5. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    I just saw something in the news – elk near Gardiner were just killed because of brucellosis.



  6. Buffaloed Avatar


    I just posted this to the BFC Blog. This is a very important development and seems to confirm what BFC and others have been saying for years. Killing buffalo and wolves isn’t enough for the livestock industry.

    This brings it to a whole new level when you consider the interests of hunters. I wonder if they will remain silent on this issue any longer or if they will just let RMEF lead them to the slaughter like seems to be happening at present.

  7. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    Yes, it is very important; I totally agree. I sent this along to Stephany as well.

    I need to post it to our Buffalo Allies list because there are a lot of sportsmen types on that list, and this will no doubt be a big issue to them as well.

  8. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Most hunters have been in denial for years that this could happen. Now that it has happened, and will continue to happen, maybe that will give our arguments about the brucellosis fraud some weight. In the past, on important issues, hunters have taken on the livestock industry with a fury, at least here in Wyoming. I can’t speak for Montana.



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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