Tentative deal would replace brucellosis rules in Greater Yellowstone

New rules would stop statewide penalities for cattle infection in Greater Yellowstone-

Hope I’m wrong, but I doubt this will get approval if it means bison will be able to migrate outside Yellowstone Park because brucellosis is not the real issue. It’s the symbolism of who has the upper hand on the public’s land.

Tentative deal would replace brucellosis rules. By Matthew Brown. Associated Press.




  1. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    The one thing positive from our standpoint that it does is dis-incentivize cattle producers outside Greater Yellowstone from caring very much about what happens inside the zone. That was always why the stockgrowers disapproved of Schweitzer’s split state plan. They are trying to mitigate that obvious problem in their solidarity by maintaining state control.

    For buffalo and elk, in the longterm, it might be a good thing because the cost of producing cattle in Greater Yellowstone will further increase over time, making it more and more unviable. However, the short term could mean more draconian policy in the fanciful attempt of ridding brucellosis from the area. The good news ultimately is that you simply can’t rid brucellosis from Greater Yellowstone, and that alone will make it less and less viable for livestock producers in one zone – formerly protected by their connection to every other stockgrower in the state – to keep up the pointless fight.

    However, the short term could be very bad, especially as the states, particularly Montana, try to prove that they can make this arrangement work for the producers inside whatever lines they draw, which will no doubt include both the Madison and Paradise valleys.

  2. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    When I was in the Gardiner area this spring, I saw bison in fenced areas near the highway . I was told they were brucellosis free. What is going on there?

  3. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    Larry, those are bison that were put into quarantine. They were taken as calves from Yellowstone, all placed together without older siblings, without mothers, without males – i.e., without family units – put into fences as an experiment. Some of their fellow bison were killed to see if there was brucellosis. They are raised in those pens for years to see if they get brucellosis.

    Then what? Well, they were supposed to be transported to groups that wanted supposedly wild bison (though they’ve been raised in captivity outside of any normal herd structure for years) that were from Yellowstone and were brucellosis free. The Northern Arapahos in Wyoming put in an application and was accepted for 42 bison. All of a sudden in the last month, they pulled out without really sharing the reason (except worry about bison too close to their cows). Now, if no one takes the bison, about 50 will be shipped to slaughter.

    If a group does take the bison, they have to keep them fenced and tested for several more years as condition of taking them.

    What’s more, the legislature in Montana tried to pass a bill (though it failed ultimately) to stop the transfer of bison across state lines, even though the bison are brucellosis free (further proving this issue has never had anything to do with brucellosis).

    So, the whole thing is tragic. When I go by that area in Corwin Springs, I get very sad. Some of the land there is so gorgeous, and yet these buffalo have been ripped from their families and are being penned in for an experiment that ends up in the death of many of them and may end up in the pointless death of all of them.

    The quarantine is a terrible idea; it’s becoming even more tragic than that.

  4. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Larry, those buffalo have been in there for a long time. I agree with Jim, it is so depressing to see them there and it really gives the state of Montana a black eye in my mind.

    In regards to the article, I am not sure if this will be a good thing or not. It doesn’t seem too clear to me what the policy for managing buffalo is. It is interesting to me how newspaper articles with talk about how brucellosis does infect elk but the state of Montana is so blind to it.

  5. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Ken & I monitored the West Fork allotment on the Beaverhead NF the other day. This allotment is prime for public oversight. The place was trashed by livestock. There was not a place to hike nor drive where the sweet forest air was not overwhelmed by the rancid smell of cattle waste. Rounding one corner, several livestock were having their way with a forest spring. Further on, we stopped to watch a group of 4 or 5 livestock wallowing in the creek, Ken nearly caught a photograph of a cow defecating in the creek, but we were behind the trees – the otherwise crystal clear water ran muddy & murky as the livestock moved on at our approach. The vegetation communities were dominated by increasers, a sure sign of stressed systems.

    Livestock on these public land allotments in the area of bison habitat contribute to the economic viability of the industry in the area. It appears as if the Forest & ranchers’ sensitivity to compliance with environmental law has atrophied in the absence of public oversight at this level. Livestock is doing as it pleases on our public land. Applying pressure at this land-use level bears many handles that are actionable & contribute to disruption of the ‘business as usual’ mentality that contributes to the maintainence of economic & bureaucratic conditions that foster resistance to progress on behalf of bison & other wildlife. Hitting this chord represents an opportunity to enhance NWF’s efforts to buy-out allotments in the area.

    The grazing public land-use in this area is vulnerable to pressure right now. It’s really surprising that this abuse has been allowed to take place for so long in such a beautiful area. I hope that someone will do something about it.

  6. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    It is not the cattles fault of course. It is the agribusiness system where cattle – just like bison on private and public lands – are raised dysfunctionally. There would not be loitering at watering holes by these cattle if they were a part of functional families. Plus there would not be overgrazing indicator increaser species if these animals had true herbivore grazing training from their ancestors. As it is now these dysfunctional cattle, as well as those buffalo at Corwin Springs and other “managed herds” again public and private…are none ecologically supportive Grassivores.

    Finally there would be none of this foul smell belching forth from these cattle if they knew what to eat. Modern Man, whether they are scientists, “new” era Range Managers, ranchers, environmentalists and a general public concerned with what is happening to our lands all …. I repeat all ….are looking at just surface symptom logic for why it is as it is.

    Of course no rancher is going to switch to social order infrastructure management because the business of meat production in this country is set up for splitting for age groups and sexes. Thus there is no reason for cattle …as they are now…to be on ANY public lands. Again, it is not the cattle, it is the people who are the problem. Putting dysfunctional bison on these lands would be little different.


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Ralph Maughan