New Brucellosis "Hot Spots" Found In Yellowstone Area

Is this going to result in a new power grab?

This seems to be what is behind the attempt to put elk under the purview of the Montana Department of Livestock. The article indicates that brucellosis is more prevalent on private lands where hunting is limited and elk congregate. I think the real question that should be asked is should livestock be the driving force behind wildlife management. Not only has this issue been devastating to bison, now it appears that the livestock industry is building up momentum for the same for elk. Anal probes for bull elk now too?

The hysteria surrounding brucellosis has allowed the livestock industry to fight even modest attempts at change in how it is managed. For several years the Montana Stockgrowers Association has fought attempts to create a zone around Yellowstone which would call for mandatory vaccination and greater testing of livestock by saying that it would be unfair to the ranchers who would be affected. In reality, the plan takes away from their ability to hold the brucellosis myth over the heads of the entire state by limiting the area affected by a brucellosis infection to just the zone around Yellowstone instead of the entire state. They don’t like this and they’re fighting.

Let’s face it. Brucellosis is here to stay. There is no way to rid the ecosystem of it now that it is an endemic part of the Greater Yellowstone, and keep in mind, it was brought here by the livestock industry in the first place. The same livestock industry that was partially responsible for, and benefitted from, the destruction of wolves, grizzlies, bison and Native Americans which inhabited the West.

New Brucellosis “Hot Spots” Found In Yellowstone Area.
MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press






  1. vielfrass Avatar

    I’m done with cattle products. No more steak and cheese.

  2. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    There definitely needs to be a different plan devised, because what they have been doing for the last 20 years is not working and never will..

  3. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    As a Dubois, Wyoming area resident, I can tell you our elk have direct contact with the fed, brucellosis-infected Jackson Elk Herd–elk from both herds mingle on the Buffalo Plateau in the Teton Wilderness on the other side of the Continental Divide, and there is also significant interchange of individuals between the two herds–it’s no surprise that Dubois elk have been exposed to brucellosis, something we’ve known since 1995.

    I find the characterization of Dubois as a “brucellosis hot spot” highly inaccurate. Seroprevalence is not significantly higher now than what it has been historically, around 6%, and that mainly in the segment of the herd that summers with Jackson elk.

    Since much of the state and federal land in Dubois area is designated winter range, the private land harboring problem that is being blamed for brucellosis seroprevalence “spikes” that has been noticed elsewhere in Wyoming and Montana doesn’t exist here. Dubois area elk are generally well-distributed across the existing winter range.

    The Cody Wyoming “hot spot” is found in the Clarks Fork Elk Herd in the upper Clarks Fork River area–the Sunlight Basin and Crandall drainages where the Absaroka and Beartooth Mountains meet. It is rugged country, and the most beautiful place in Wyoming.

    There is a small state-owned wildlife habitat management area in Sunlight Basin, but the isolation and elevation of the area makes it mediocre winter range. We have seen a significant shift of elk over the last 10 or 15 years to lower elevation private ranches (e.g., the Two Dot) on the Beartooth Range front. Elk do tend to congregate at higher densities on these ranches, creating quasi feedground-like conditions.

    A paper is supposed to come out this month in the Journal of Wildlife Disease that tracks brucellosis seroprevalence rates in western Wyoming herds. We should all look for it.


  4. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    Why is it that people are just now acknowledging that elk carry brucellosis?

    1. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears


      Elk has been talked about for over 2 decades now as a carrier of brucellosis, where you been pro?

    2. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      Much of my studies as well as my work when I was with FWP was in this exact area..

  5. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    They sure seem to ignore it when talking about buffalo as carriers. Or at least downplay it.

    1. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      And even with this, they will continue to, Bison don’t make money, Elk do..

    2. Robert Hoskins Avatar
      Robert Hoskins

      Even if elk do generate lots of income, the state of Montana is poised to impose bison style brucellosis management on its elk–Debbie Barrett’s proposed bill that has been in the news the last three or four months.


    3. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears


      I am very well aware of it, and am doing all in my power to see it does not happen..

    4. Elk275 Avatar

      I doubt if it will happen.

  6. ProWolf in WY Avatar
    ProWolf in WY

    I would say if Montana imposes the bison-style approach they certainly can’t piss and moan about wolves. I also might add that bison could easily make money for the state if they would allow it.

    1. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears


      Many of us have been telling them for over 20 years now, we have tried to introduce bills in the legislature an various other things to stop what is going on. And I can tell you, even if DOL gets control over elk, they will still kill wolves, it won’t change their policies about wolves one bit..

  7. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson

    The problem of Montana starting a bison hunt is they would never would wait till a resident herd becomes “settled in” before hunting commences. Thus any ‘herd” away from Yellowstone will become the horrors of those rancher dire predictions. They will scatter long distances away, going to places like Ennis and bozeman.

    Other reintroduced species such as elk, state G&F always allows a herd to grow before hunting. Since G&F and federal herd biologists have yet to understand why a “herd” stays or travels any present day Montana, Wyoming or Idaho managed bison hunt WOULD NOT WORK!!

  8. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Why are you hollering?

  9. bob jackson Avatar
    bob jackson


    Why am I hollering? Because there is the right way to do it and then there is the F&G pig farmer management way of doing it. The bison deserve better.

  10. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I was just wondering, you went full caps at the end of your message…I have been on the phone all week with FWP an it is like talking to a brick wall right now…the people in charge are not only stubborn, they are just plain dumb! I am glad I don’t work there anylonger!

  11. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    What I worry about in Montana with elk is that Wyoming hunters have already rolled over belly up with feedgrounds and elk test and slaughter. Not a whimper. Even the Wyoming Wildlife Federation bailed and supported test & slaughter.

    Will Montana hunters show greater courage than Wyoming hunters have about elk mismanagement? I wonder. The Montana Wildlife Federation is more worried about what real estate Cabelas is selling in Montana than what the feudal lords at the Stockgrowers are doing to wildlife.

    Further, I already know the RMEF is on the edge of openly supporting brucellosis management of Montana elk, after the aborted RMEF/Stockgrower sponsored “conference” in Billings that Glenn Hockett and I crashed two years ago to prevent any agreement about extending bison-style management to Montana elk. The entire purpose of this conference was to secure “elk hunter” (i.e., RMEF) cover for DOL managing elk for brucellosis.

    More collaboration.

    This time I’m sure they’ve got better OPSEC about arranging the meetings and the conferences. Who’s talking to Barrett? David Allen? Joe Maurier?


    1. Jeff Avatar

      I wouldn’t say Wyoming hunters have rolled over belly up and accepted feedgrounds—but clearly outfitters have, as they see feedgrounds as insurance for a steady supply of elk, thus mitigating any possible boom or bust in herd numbers. This political partnership has made phasing out of feedgrounds very difficult if not impossible. Commercialization of wildlife is sad but true.

  12. Nancy Avatar

    I emailed the Gov about Barrett’s legislation and and he sent a letter back stating:
    I am aware of the proposed legislation but assure you no state agency nor anyone in my office is in any way involved with generating the proposal”

    He suggested I contact Barrett directly and my own legislators and legislative candidates about its prospects in the 2011 session.

  13. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Typical Schweitzer spin and BS. No, they’re just involved in supporting the proposal. The Stockgrowers Association is generating the proposal.


  14. Cody Coyote Avatar

    What really bothers me about the whole brucellosis thing isn’t the disease, or the fact it makes the rounds between wildlife and domestic stock. It’s the apocalyptic response by the national beef industry ( public and private) to the merest whiff of Brucella. One cow in two herd with the disease quarantines an entire state from the rest of the planet. Wyoming is not an end producer of beef. We start the cows , carry them a ways, but eventually nearly all of Wyoming’s cattle end up in a feed lot or another state. We have a microscopic meat packing and meatcutting industry here. Yes, I can buy local beef cut and wrapped , but Wyoming’s 1.4 milion cattle are largely destined for the outside world .

    But quarantine an entire state for a couple of instances of the disease? Methinks the problem with Brucella has ittle to do with edpidemiology and public health and a whole lot to do with overreaction, layers of bureaucracy spread coast to coast , APHIS, and more than a little paranoia that drives the whole brucellosismobile over the cliff.

    We’ll never eliminate the disease in the wild. Not when virtually every specie of mammal carries one or more forms of the brucella bug, which in itself is a mighty adaptive and resistant microorganism that’s almost impossible to create a working vaccine for.

    The problem isn’t biology , it’s bureaucracy ; Human , not animal. I’m sorry , but the cattle industry should just rework the whole regulatory framework to be more flexible and forgiving. In my dream world anyway.

    After watching that astounding documentary , ” Food, Inc.” that was shown on PBS last week and is widely available , which exposes the entire factory food industry as being rife with health issues, , I’m not sure I ever want to eat commercial beef ever again….

    1. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears

      I don’t blame you, I eat so little commercial beef, these days, after what I have seen, it is not even appealing to me, which is why my hunting has become so much more important..the commercial food industry is not a good industry..volume and profit is the motivator, be damned the public..

  15. Nancy Avatar

    CC – if you thought Food Inc. was an eye opener, google Earthlings. (There’s a version of it on the internet) Not quite the quality of the DVD movie but it covers just about every aspect of the abuses that go on out there against animals (wild and domesticated)


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Ken Cole