The decreasing belief that Yellowstone bison are inherently brucellosis spreaders might open way for plains restoration-

Today there is an optimistic article about bison by Daniel Person the Bozeman Chronicle.

The bison cause brucellosis in cattle story has been under attack here and many other places now for a long time, and it is clear that all the actual cases of brucellosis spread in the Greater Yellowstone have come from elk or cattle.

Person talks about restoration of bison to the plains as a real possibility, but with a lot of questions. One of them is will they eat the grass that cows could be eating?  Of course, that is one reason why there are efforts to create a large reserve by purchasing land so the bison can roam free and not compete with cattle.

For over a decade now, my explanation of the hostility of cattle organizations to bison, however, has been that their opposition is really based on the idea that killing bison as they leave the Park (and even trying to kill them in the Park) is really to show the rest of the West who is still boss around here. The problem with bison restoration is not brucellosis; it is the politics of cultural domination.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

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.

24 Responses to Bison after rationality about brucellosis. Restoration?

  1. Salle says:

    It’s good that he talked to Mike Phillips, a well reasoned and highly educated biologist. Mike is right about the fact that the bison is one of the most iconic figures on the landscape and we the people have done nothing but isolate and destroy it’s prominence for a very long time. America has no shame when it comes to self-serving advances at the expense of others… including wildlife.

  2. ProWolf in WY says:

    Good article except for Schweitzer’s statement about buffalo roaming the streets of Bozeman. Good to see something positive on this for once.

  3. Save Bears says:

    I tell you what Schweitzer has turned out to be a massive disappointment when it comes to conservation issue, quite a bit different that what he campaigned on!

  4. ProWolf in WY says:

    He has been pretty hostile to buffalo for sure. Is it any better or worse than Racicot’s?

  5. Pronghorn says:

    I have frequently pointed out, throughout the years, that the chairman of the Democratic party in MT is a cattleman heavily involved in livestock politics (check out R-CALF USA and the National Cattleman’s Assoc.) and note this from his campaign website:

    “His vocal role as an advocate for the Ag community—he is founder of the National Cattlemen’s Association—led to greater involvement in state politics when, in 2005, he was chosen chairman of Montana’s Democratic party. His efforts to revitalize the party, particularly in rural areas all over the state, helped to elect Democrat John Tester to the U.S. Senate in 2006.”

    It would be naive to think that he has had little or no influence in Schweitzer’s policy of bison extermination. And now McDonald is running against Rehberg. Is there a lesser between those two evils? McDonald was so vehement about the bison “problem” that he called for Yellowstone to be “managed like a ranch,” –his exact words. He called for the complete eradication of brucellosis which, of course, meant the extermination of wild bison.

  6. Save bears says:

    Schweitzer is the lesser of two evils, that is not the best, but he is better than Racicot, but not much

  7. So a land baron incumbent against a land baron, posing as populist. Worse than Idaho.

  8. gline says:

    Historically and now, Bison have it as bad as wolves do. Some may disagree, but the same hate… or need to dominate the landscape.

  9. bob jackson says:

    The only way Montana is going to get unfenced bison to stay anywhere is to allow establishment of HOME. Home means all blood related roles are established in a given area. Then you have bison herds (lone big guys or small 3-5 in number young bulls) that won’t wander down the Gallatin to the streets of Bozeman.

    It would be so easy to establish a herd that would keep the fears of ranchers suppressed…if Montana G&F….and former Turner biologist Mike Phillips…..only understood bison structure.

    Of course, reduction and at the same time maintaining stable land anchored bison herds means something entirely different than states now design for this “control”.

  10. gline says:

    I am reading a book you mentioned on a past blog Ralph- Predatory Bureaucracy. (Includes Bison history as well as wolf politics so far) Good Read, thanks for mentioning.

  11. ProWolf in WY says:

    Historically and now, Bison have it as bad as wolves do. Some may disagree, but the same hate… or need to dominate the landscape.

    This along with grizzlies and almost any other predator. Management is usually for things that are fun to shoot even though buffalo might be fun to shoot.

  12. cc says:

    I think “hate” is a bit simplistic. Do supporters of bison and grizzlies “love” those species? Hell no. To me the opposition to species is more about having a competing interest with a species and therefore de-valuing it. Supporting an at-risk species is about valuing the species enough to try to restrain others from killing them and destroying their habitat.

    Gray wolves, grizzlies, and bison do attract the most hoopla from both sides of the issue. This site has closely followed jaguar events, but not that of the thick-billed parrot which was extirpated from the Southwest too. An article about a cougar getting shot in Iowa makes it on here, but not a one about a whooping crane getting shot in Indiana. It seems alot of people are hung up on predators.

  13. I would like to expand coverage, but this blog has always been devoted mostly to the Western United States, especially the Idaho, Montana and Wyoming areas, where I live and have the most detailed information.

  14. Ken Cole says:


    In pure metrics Schweitzer is worse than Racicot. I would say that Schweitzer is worse in other ways as well. He’s worse because his lies are even more insidious which leads uninformed people to actually think he’s trying to find solutions. He’s not.

  15. ProWolf in WY says:

    CC, you could add plenty to that list. By the way do you have a link for the whooping crane article? I think the problem is that species like whooping cranes and parrots do not really compete with anyone’s interests so people do not pay much attention. I agree that it is unfortunate since plenty of birds are endangered and deserve attention.

  16. Save bears says:

    Boy Ken,

    Thanks for clearing that up! Not only do I know him personally, I also worked for FWP during his first Term, So I am pretty up to speed on Brian..

  17. Save bears says:

    I also met with Racicot, many times during his terms as well as his hand picked State Mom, I have been, in one way or another working on the Bison situation since 1993

  18. Save bears says:


    In the whole context of things, wolves really don’t compete with that many peoples interest, it is a small percentage of the population that is actually effected by wolves.

  19. ProWolf in WY says:

    Yes, it is a small percentage of the population, but still more than affected by parrots and cranes.

  20. Save bears says:


    I really bet, if you counted all of the ranchers having problems with wolves, it would not even populate a small town in the west and I just went through some really small towns in Montana today, think Ovando, Townsend…they are loud and very vocal, but they really are not that many..

    As I have said before, in the whole scope of things, and taking the total population of the country, we are such a small segment, both pro and anti..

  21. ProWolf in WY says:

    Anti seems to make more noise and find their way into the legislature in these states though.

  22. Salle says:

    This is about a stupid badger cull about to take place in Wales but if you read it, you can see the similarity in the logic. The point the author makes stands in any land that takes on the philosophy he decries.

  23. ProWolf in WY says:

    Salle, it’s amazing how people will kill off any species for cattle.


January 2010


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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