DNA Tests Indicate Yellowstone National Park Elk, Not Bison, Most Likely To Spread Brucellosis

Don’t worry about the man behind the curtain.

In so many ways the issue of brucellosis in bison and elk is similar to the issue of domestic sheep diseases and bighorn except the rationalization for killing wildlife is just the opposite.

We now know that domestic sheep are responsible for disease issues in bighorn sheep and those who support the livestock industry want to simply deny it and continue to allow domestic sheep to use areas where there is an obvious conflict and to kill bighorn sheep if the “invade” the sacred domestic sheep allotments.

With bison the same argument is turned on its head so that bison are routinely hazed and slaughtered for being on the sacred landscape of the holy cow. Forget that there is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that bison are a truly a risk to cattle that are not even on the landscape when bison are capable of transmitting brucellosis. The bison must be tortured and killed so that the sacred cow can eat the grass that those pesky beasts are eating.

Well, now comes evidence to show that bison another species, elk, have been the culprit in spreading brucellosis to the sacred cow. Are we now going to see a new war waged against them? Forget that brucellosis came from domestic livestock in the first place. Something must be done to protect the kings and queens of the West and the taxpayer must fork over millions upon millions of dollars for a pointless and impossible eradication exercise so that the livestock industry won’t ever have to face any adversity.

Think it won’t happen? Well, it has already begun and the livestock industry will use this new study to rationalize it and to rationalize continuation of their bison policies as well.

DNA Tests Indicate Yellowstone National Park Elk, Not Bison, Most Likely To Spread Brucellosis.
Kurt Repanshek – National Parks Traveler


  1. JimT Avatar

    We have known this for awhile, and it has had no effect on the movement of elk or the population by the state game agencies. . Elk are a cash cow–pardon the expression, and fun to hunt, therefore untouchable.

    1. Ken Cole Avatar

      Maybe but there has been test and slaughter in Wyoming in recent years with no outrage by sportsmen. I think they are still evaluating, if it can be called that, the results. They have been trying to make the argument that the program made some progress and I see it as a sign of things to come. I bet there will be big efforts made by the livestock industry to expand the program and efforts to get something like it started in Idaho and Wyoming.

    2. ProWolf in WY Avatar
      ProWolf in WY

      JimT, you are right, elk are too much of a cash cow to allow them to be shot like buffalo. People don’t want to prevent anything that is fun to shoot from leaving the park. The strange thing is that people probably would have fun shooting buffalo too. I’m going off on a tangent here but I don’t get why buffalo can’t be restored to certain areas. Like the Red Desert.

  2. Tom Woodbury Avatar
    Tom Woodbury

    Well Ken, just as when the chickens with choppers came to the aid of the cows with guns at the most critical moment, maybe it will take this to finally pit Montana’s hunters against the ranchers and break the bison out of YNP!

  3. vickif Avatar

    Elk are a universal language to hunters. Once they see this as serious, there will be a loud reverbiration amongst the hunters. They are far more numerous than people who fight for the bison. Elk have the luxury of many proponents.
    The other factor is the much higher economic impact. Nobody, hunters or business owners, will be happy to be impacted by a loss of elk revenue. For a number of years, hunting was amongst the leading income sources in so many states. Bison haven’t been a part of that equation, but elk are the most common denomenator.
    When it comes to burcellosis being a cattle vs. elk or bison, it is an apples and oranges scenario.

  4. Dewayne Brake Avatar
    Dewayne Brake

    There have been countless studies that show bison cannot transmit brucellosis to cattle. Even reproductive studies where natural mating will not transmit brucellosis because of the cervical defenses. Artificial Insemination can transmit brucellosis in cattle. I have been trying to get the government officials to solve the problem, but they have no interest. American Animal Solutions Institute knows the cause of the problem and thus the solution, based on thirty years of animal immunity work. This problem is indeed a golden goose for providing funding for so many organizations and individuals. Many “experts” have made a career from this problem and will continue to do so.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole