A Thousand Bison May Be Killed–Time To End Slaughter
Recently Yellowstone National Park announced the intentions of culling (read kill) as many as a thousand of the park’s genetically unique and only continuously wild herd of bison. The annual slaughter has no basis in science, and is ethically bankrupt and corrupted management precipitated by ranching interests.
The slaying of bison is an annual event. Since 1985 some 8634 Yellowstone bison have been sacrificed to the livestock industry.
The main justification given for this carnage is the fear of brucellosis transmission to domestic livestock. The Montana Dept. of Livestock and the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have worked together to perpetrate the idea that brucellosis poses a threat to the livestock industry. As a consequence the state and federal agencies, including the National Park Service, more or less restrict bison to Yellowstone Park (although there is a small area where bison are permitted outside of the park for a short period of time—but they are then killed by Native Americans and Montana hunters).
A BISON WALL EXISTS
Unfortunately for the bison, the urge to migrate in winter to find accessible food under shallow snow cover puts them in the cross hairs of the Montana livestock industry. A“bison wall” (analogous to the Berlin Wall) effectively confines them to Yellowstone National Park.
The main justification given by the livestock industry for its continued support of slaughter or hazing of wild bison is a disease known as brucellosis. There are reasons to believe that brucellosis is a Trojan Horse.
First, only infected pregnant bison cows can potentially transmit brucellosis during the last trimester of pregnancy (February – April), bison bulls and calves are regularly slaughtered, so the killing of these animals demonstrates that brucellosis is not the primary reason for the containment of buffalo in the park.
Also keep in mind that other animals also carry brucellosis. Some elk in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) are also infected with brucellosis. Predators and scavengers, such as coyotes, crows, vultures, and bears, are rarely infected as well, though they are not at high risk for shedding the bacteria.
Though there has never been a single documented case of brucellosis transmission to cattle from wild bison, all the instances of cattle infection seem to be the result of elk transmission. Despite these well-known facts, bison are still singled out for control and death.
YELLOWSTONE BISON ARE UNIQUE AND THREATENED
The wild bison in Yellowstone are not just any old bison herd. They are the only continuously wild bison left in the United States. They are the most significant bison herd free of cattle genes. They are a national and international heritage.
Most of the bison in the US are managed as commercial livestock and selection is for traits favorable to domestication.
Both the Buffalo Field Campaign and Western Watersheds Project have petitioned to have Yellowstone’s bison declared a threatened distinct population segment under the Endangered Species Act. An earlier attempt to get the bison listed in 1999 resulted in the Fish and Wildlife Service’s refusal to consider the listing, however, they did acknowledge that the Yellowstone population may be discrete and may meet the criteria for Distinct Population Segment.
To treat Yellowstone’s bison as political prisoners to promote the power control of the livestock industry is a national disgrace. The fact that this carnage has been on-going for decades without resolution is also a scandal.
The goal of eradicating brucellosis began in the 1930s. Brucellosis causes cattle to abort their first fetus and is transmissible to humans as undulant fever. Undulant fever causes flu-like symptoms in people. The brucellosis campaign was justified by health concerns and taxpayers have spent billions to eradicate the disease. However, since the major pathway for human infection was from drinking unpasteurized milk, once pasteurization became widespread, the human health threat was eliminated. Most cases today are due to people drinking unpasteurized milk and/or people who work with infected animals like veterinarians.
That hasn’t stopped the livestock industry from using the public health excuse to maintain federal funding to control brucellosis, even though it is now mostly an economic issue to the industry–i.e. the livestock industry loses calves when brucellosis infected cows abort them.
Today the last major reservoir of brucellosis in the United States is found in wildlife in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Wild bison were infected on or before 1917 by domestic dairy cows that were once kept in Yellowstone to provide fresh milk to tourists. Apparently, brucellosis has less serious effects on wild bison than domestic cattle because the population continues to grow in spite of infection.
RISK OF TRANSMISSION IS EXAGGERATED
The risk of brucellosis transmission from bison to domestic cattle is extremely low. Testing under controlled conditions by Texas A&M researchers demonstrated that, in theory, brucellosis from bison can be transmitted to cattle (cattle were swabbed with brucellosis bacteria obtained from an infected bison). However, there has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission from wild bison to domestic livestock.
There are a number of reasons for this.
First, most wild bison pose no risk – bulls, calves, non-pregnant cows and cows with calves cannot transmit brucellosis to cattle. Only pregnant female bison can abort a fetus and this does not happen very often. If infected with brucellosis, the bison cow appears to reabsorb the fetus. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective because the risks and costs of calving are significant, and if the bison’s body is able to confirm the calf is infected, it makes sense to terminate the birth.
Second, an aborted bison calf would have to remain available for a domestic animal to find it and lick it. Given the abundance of natural scavengers including coyotes, ravens, magpies, and eagles found in the region, the chances that any infected bison fetus would remain on the ground more than a few days is extremely small. Plus the bacteria is extremely sensitive to heat, drying out and so forth, and only remains viable outside of the body for short periods of time.
Third, the main time period for reabsorption and/or abortion of the fetus is in late winter (Feb-April), the chances this would occur on pastures in the Yellowstone area actively being grazed by domestic livestock is extremely small. All public grazing allotments are devoid of cattle, and even many of the private grazing lands are only stocked with cattle in the summer months.
Since the main way a domestic animal can contract the disease is by licking a brucellosis infected aborted bison fetus, the fact that this occurs very rarely limits the opportunity for transmission.
Other factors that also cut the chances of infection are vaccination/inoculation of cattle. A vaccine that protects cattle against infection exists, but it is not required in Montana except in the immediate area surrounding Yellowstone. While not considered 100% effective, the vaccine does significantly reduce the chance for brucellosis infection in domestic animals.
Finally even if an infected animal shows up in a rancher’s herd, it is not a total loss. The herd is quarantined while it is tested for the disease. Animals testing positive for brucellosis are removed (sold for meat), and the remainder of the herd can be maintained.
RECAP OF ODDS
To recap the probability of transmission of brucellosis to domestic livestock is extremely low. An infected bison cow must abort her fetus, something that apparently is very rare in wild bison, the bacteria must remain alive and the aborted fetus has to be missed by scavengers anxious to consume an easy meal. The aborted bison fetus has to occur where there is active grazing by domestic livestock—something rare in the colder regions where bison graze in winter months. Finally a domestic animal has to find the infected fetus, lick it, consume an infective dose and be a domestic animal that was not effectively vaccinated.
As any statistical analysis would tell you, the chance of all these variables being met are almost zero. The threat of bison transmission to cattle is just a ruse to justify control of wild bison by the livestock industry who fear competition for forage from wild bison on public and private lands.
“NEED” FOR CULLING A RUSE
Because the brucellosis transmission scam is increasingly being questioned by scientists, and others, the latest excuse for killing bison is to “reduce” the population. You will hear people saying they are no longer shooting bison to prevent brucellosis transmission, but to “cull” the herd which has “grown too large.”
However, the only reason the herd is “too large” is that it’s bottled up in the park. The majority of wildlife winter range is located outside of the park borders, but unavailable to the bison because of the senseless demands of the livestock industry. If the vast amount of public land (and bison friendly private lands) outside of the park were available to bison, there would be no need for “culling” by any government agency.
INDIAN AND HUNTER KILLING PROVIDES COVER FOR LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY
Currently some bison that attempt to migrate from the park are killed by Indians and/or Montana licensed hunters in small confined zones close to the Park. All of this killing provides cover to the livestock industry. In addition, bison captured and slaughtered by the Department of Livestock or the National Park Service are given to tribes which also provides an easy way to put a happy face on what is in effect a totally unnecessary slaughter of unique and rare animals.
In effect, tribal members and Montana hunters are doing the dirty work for the livestock industry.
ROOM TO ROAM
At present there are almost no cattle that winter in the regions north and west of Yellowstone where bison migrate during harsh winters seeking food. Most of the public lands grazing allotments near West Yellowstone, as well as north of Gardiner, have been closed. Furthermore, many of the private land owners in both places actually support having wild bison on their properties.
In recent years seasonal “bison tolerance zones” have been established in the Gardiner Basin/Eagle Creek areas adjacent to Gardiner, and in the West Yellowstone area. However, there is absolutely no reason we need “tolerance” zones in the first place.
Bison should be permitted to roam on public lands year round just like all other wildlife. There is no legitimate justification for the selective killing of bison. The brucellosis threat is nothing more than a subterfuge designed to garner control over our wildlife by livestock interests. Keep in mind that we do not automatically shoot wolves that leave Yellowstone. We do not automatically shoot grizzlies that leave Yellowstone. We don’t automatically shoot pronghorn, mule deer, or elk that leave Yellowstone.
HOW WE STOP THE SLAUGHTER
Elk are among the major vectors for brucellosis transmission. Indeed, all 20 reported cases of brucellosis in GYE cattle were the result of elk transmission. In particular, elk concentrated on feed grounds as occurs in Wyoming are at a higher risk of contracting the disease from other infected elk. Estimates suggest that 35% of the elk on Wyoming feedgrounds are infected. Thus one solution is to phase out and eventually close the feedgrounds in Wyoming to prevent disease transmission of brucellosis, as well as other threats to wildlife and livestock like Chronic Wasting Disease (better known as Mad Cow Disease), and give less reasons to the livestock industry to continue its brucellosis deception.
In addition to the above, the biggest factor that could change the game is if bison were listed under the ESA. If they were given the protection they deserve, the DOL would not be able to be so cavalier about killing these animals, and indeed, it would force the federal agencies like the Forest Service to work towards restoration of bison on federal lands. (Send donations to the Buffalo Field Campaign and Western Watersheds to help in this effort).
Currently all of Montana’s nearby state wildlife management areas including Dome Mountain, Gallatin, Bear Creek and Wall Creek are unavailable to bison. Also most of the Custer-Gallatin NF and all of the B-DNF and the Caribou-Targhee NF are off limits to bison. This needs to be changed. There is no justification for prohibiting wild bison from occupying public lands surrounding Yellowstone.
In addition to opening up adjacent federal lands on the Custer-Gallatin, Bridger-Teton and Caribou-Targhee National Forests, and nearby state wildlife lands like Dome Mountain Wildlife Management Area, listing under the ESA could speed reintroduction to other suitable federal lands like the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge in Montana, on Bureau of Land Management lands in Wyoming’s Red Desert, and Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument.
ADDITIONAL STEPS—TERMINATE NPS PARTICIPATION
There are National Park Service employees who are strongly opposed to the annual capture and carnage of wild bison. Secretary of Interior Jewell could direct Yellowstone National Park to drop its cooperation in the bison slaughter and conserve bison under its natural regulation policy like it does for all other wildlife species. While this might not end the butchery occurring beyond the park borders, at the very least it would make the public aware of who is behind this slaughter—namely the livestock industry. At present, due to the participation of the Park Service, tribes, and even Montana hunters, the livestock industry is getting a pass in the public relations department. Most people assume that if the NPS is participating, than killing bison must be OK.
LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY SLAUGHTER OF BISON ONLY TIP OF THE ICEBERG
Keep in mind that livestock production harms many other species besides bison. . Everything from the killing of wolves/grizzlies to the destruction of sage grouse habitat to the dewatering of rivers critical to trout and even global climate change is a consequence of trying to raise beef for human consumption. One of the easiest ways you can undermine the ranching industry is to eat less beef, and gets friends and neighbors to understand when they consume a hamburger, they are helping to kill wild bison, wolves, and other wildlife.
George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology
37 Responses to A Thousand Bison May Be Killed–Time To End Slaughter
Subscribe to Blog via EmailJoin 970 other subscribers
- We Lost Jim Bailey–Wild Bison Advocate. May 31, 2023
- Wildfire And California Home Insurance Challenges May 27, 2023
- Grizzlies Get A Win On Upper Green May 26, 2023
- Senator Daines Ill-advised Forest Management Advocacy May 25, 2023
- Save Our Sequoias Act–A Stealth Attack On NEPA, ESA and Our Sequoia Groves May 21, 2023
- Kevin Bixby on We Lost Jim Bailey–Wild Bison Advocate.
- Lyn McCormick on We Lost Jim Bailey–Wild Bison Advocate.
- Jannett Heckert on We Lost Jim Bailey–Wild Bison Advocate.
- Rick Meis on We Lost Jim Bailey–Wild Bison Advocate.
- Ida Lupine on Save Our Sequoias Act–A Stealth Attack On NEPA, ESA and Our Sequoia Groves
- Mary on Save Our Sequoias Act–A Stealth Attack On NEPA, ESA and Our Sequoia Groves
- Rambling Dave on Wildfire And California Home Insurance Challenges
- Ida Lupine on Wildfire And California Home Insurance Challenges
- Mary on Wildfire And California Home Insurance Challenges
- Jeff Hoffman on Wildfire And California Home Insurance Challenges
- Jeff Hoffman on Senator Daines Ill-advised Forest Management Advocacy
- laurie on Grizzlies Get A Win On Upper Green
- Ida Lupine on Grizzlies Get A Win On Upper Green
- Jeff Hoffman on Grizzlies Get A Win On Upper Green
- Ida Lupine on Grizzlies Get A Win On Upper Green
Thank you so much, George! You are truly one of my heroes and on behalf of Buffalo Field Campaign, I cannot thank you enough for all you do for the buffalo (and all wildlife and wild lands). We will be sharing this outstanding piece far and wide.
Thank you for your continuing dedication and commitment to preserving these magnificent wild animals.
Please stop destroying these animals.
Thank You George! A Great Summary of Bison’s Growth Challenges, becoming “Domesticated” by Production Farms. Continuing the YNP Wild Bison Herd Population is Critical to Bison and Prairie Health! LET THEM ROAM!!
There are millions of acres of public lands surrounding YNP where the buffalo can roam. Yet ranchers selfishly want that land for themselves so that buffalo can’t compete with their cattle for grass. But however much they make think so, ranchers are not entitled to use our public lands as they see fit.
Instead of being needlessly and brutally slaughtered, buffalo should be permitted to follow their ancient migratory routes outside of the park to ensure their survival, as they have been doing for thousands and thousands of years.
I would like to see federal officials advocating for more buffalo habitat, instead of pandering to ranching interests. Public land belongs to all of us, thus we all have a say regarding how those lands should be “managed.”
If the federal govt. doesn’t have the guts to stand up to the livestock industry, it’s up to the rest of us to start demanding an end to public lands ranching, which is destroying wildlife and wild habitat on our public lands. Non-native livestock should never take precedent over native wild species. I’m sick and tired of my tax dollars being used to kill native wildlife!
I am sick to death of this also. It has to stop. I’m not opposed to some hunting by tribes whose culture it has been a part of, as there is less greed and more reverence and respect for life, instead of mowing down everything in the way for dollars! At least that’s the way it used to be.
I get these horrible images in my mind of European settler tourists shooting bison like fish in a barrel for enjoyment, all at the while with the approval of the US government as part of relentless westward expansion and domination. How crass and shameful, an embarrassment. I shudder to think of how we appeared to the original inhabitants. It’s hard for me to comprehend that this mindset still exists in the 21st century! It’s a sin that needs to be rectified.
“There were even buffalo killing contests. In one, a Kansan set a record by killing 120 bison in just 40 minutes.”
make that ‘European settler tourists shooting bison from trains like fish in a barrel for enjoyment.’ Ugh.
How to get more bison habitat is the ticket, and the article touched on several positive things that could be done (National Forest tolerance, buyout of grazing rights and just land, pressure on Montana, let’s increase the costs of grazing rights). But say we are amazingly successful at that and we have, oh, 30K Bison running around there. Some form of the brutal slaughter will resume, we will just have to kill 6 times more than before. So don’t be imagining the goal is less bison slaughter, when what we get will be the opposite of that. Maybe holding out the “you’ll get to hunt bison more” to Montana folks might actually be a carrot.
Telling people to eat less cow accomplishes very little. It’s like telling people to drive less. Taxing gas is much more effective, as most Europeans know. It’s what happens in the voting booth that matters much more than your personal choices.
It’s really an entrenched mindset. Here’s an older article about several attempts to let the bison return to former ranges. I’m trying to find one I recall where a Montana governor refused to let bison out of the park and threatened to withhold trout eggs:
oops reposting the first link, and including another one:
Thanks George, this has been a long running fiasco and the brucellosis is complete subterfuge. As has been pointed out numerous times there is not a single case of brucellosis being passed from a bison to a cow. Moreover, the brutal slaughter of calves and bulls illustrates just how nonsensical is the “science.” The current situation is unethical and lacks any notion of legitimacy.
The solutions are well-known and could be easily implemented were it not for the beef industry mindset that predominates in Montana. Unfortunately, the federal agencies appear to be thoroughly captured and show little willingness to fulfill their mission in and around Yellowstone.
Fortunately there are some groups active in this process and plenty of regular folks who continue to write and petition for a change. Still, what’s it going to take for a breakthrough that actually benefits wild bison? This has been a completely frustrating issue for years but we must persist, somehow.
A little trivia, what is the Dept. of Interior logo, a bison.
One immediate thing that would help is the discontinue of Yellowstone NP in the capture of bison. That would ring its hands and focus the attention to the livestock industry, the adjoining USFS and BLM offices and State of Montana.
I find it almost laughable (if it wasn’t so pathetic) that the loss of 19 bison on the Fort Belknap Reservation should be a “red flag” for the return of bison to Native Americans. It’s unfortunate this occurred, but at least they died where they belong instead of being herded by the hundreds into trucks to be taken to slaughter or gunned down by Montana “hunters” and tribal members.
There is hope in that a new bison management plan is being written and the public is voicing their desire for this iconic species.
If I recall from sometime back the Belknap Tribe was dropped from consideration as a steward of genetically pure bison at the same time Ted Turner got his to hold as a steward, in exchange for a portion of the offspring. Seems BFC filed suit over the Turner thing. I don’t know whatever happened to resolve the suit.
On the other hand I don’t think ANY steward who doesn’t show a recent history of responsibility should be considered for this role. The loss of 19 bison in their care (from salt poisioning attributable to lack of water) on the Belknap Reservation is, to me, despicable. Sounds like animal neglect on a pretty big scale. But, nobody wants to tackle the politically sensitive issues of Native American responsibility for animal care in the 21st Century. There is this nostalgia blanket that also dampens honest dialog, which your comment suggests.
Only thing that pisses me off more is that some advocates just brush over it. If Turner had lost 19 pure genetic bison because they didn’t get water, we would be talking about it a lot more. Salt poisoning from not getting enough water? Really. Makes my blood boil, just like when someone neglects a dog/cat/horse or other animal. There is no fkn excuse.
So, how much water do 19 bison need per day? No mention of body weight or age, but the standard for a 1000 pound animal is 15 gallons x 19 = 285 gallons, maybe more in dry summer months and low humidity environments where little moisture is taken in from vegetation they eat.
The article Great Falls Trib article above didn’t say how big the one trough the tribe admitted was in the bison area, or how it was filled and/or how often. But one trough? Now they have added another.
I find it almost laughable (if it wasn’t so pathetic) that the loss of 19 bison on the Fort Belknap Reservation should be a “red flag” for the return of bison to Native Americans.
Unfortunately, mistakes will happen and things won’t run smoothly in the beginning, getting the bison returned to their native ranges again. Deliberate, intentional destruction is something else. 🙁
Good commentary on Yellowstone bison. The reason Yellowstone bison have no given cattle brucellosis is the 2 species have not been allowed to come in contact. While Yellowstone bison might be unique, they had input from 2 non related herds, were ranch raised for a half century, and are confined to a large pasture. All bison must die at some point. The question is how will they die. Treaty hunters and licensed Montana hunters are legal means for people to harvest bison and represent regulated public hunting. The park service uses human mass slaughter to regulate bison. This harvest strategy has been used by people for about 10,000 years. The park service version is by far the worst and is a bison nightmare. Current park service bison management is animal abuse in the extreme. Modified bear/wolf predation model could be used to harvest bison humanly with an ecological basis.
Well, if the bison hadn’t intentionally been driven to inches from extinction in the first place by the US government, we wouldn’t have to have to reintroduce them, and all the problems associated with it in modern times, and where a culture has been destroyed as well. So I’d say it’s a complicated issue. And left to the current system, many more would have been destroyed.
Also, may I ask, aren’t the bison supposed to be ‘wild’? There is bound to be loss of animals in the wild; I didn’t think that they were being domesticated like cattle? Maybe I missed something. It would seem to be part of the risk involved with reintroducing a native animal back to its former range. It won’t go without hitches.
At the risk of oversimplifying – there was water there for them on their prior ranges, there should be water now, unless it has been commandeered for cattle? Are they being farmed?
The restoration of Bison in Yellowstone is an outstanding success. There are Bison standing everywhere in the park.
They occupy all of the meadows and ridges that used to be covered with Elk. They are always standing on the roads and bridges. They are everywhere.
They have no natural predators to keep their population in check and are overgrazing the vegetation. They are mostly invulnerable to the “Giant Canadian Wolves”. They migrate to the area below Gardiner each winter because they are HUNGRY!!!
Unless someone is willing to adopt about a thousand Bison each winter, they have to be “culled” to protect the range from eroding away. It might be better to shoot some them all year long in remote locations to provide food for the wolves and bears.
L.Thorngren: I agree that the bears and wolves should be given first priority to use the “bison kill”. Reality is that humans are not ready to “tame” our pathological breeding and consumption habits and this is reality!!We must accept the less than perfect if we are going to save a few semi wild areas.
I am thinking that Larry Thorngren’s proposal might have merit.
It is no more a violation of the idea the Yellowstone could be an almost self-regulated ecosystem if we shot some bison in strategic places of the park rather than letting them be captured en mass at the northern Park boundary and sent to slaughter.
The former suggestion keeps the biomass inside the Park. The current method removes the bison biomass from the ecosystem, and it also enriches groups most of us don’t like.
Ralph- By using a silencer equipped sniper rifle and shooting about 3 Bison a day (or night), their numbers could be controlled without the public even being aware of it.. There would be no “mass slaughter” to get excited about. Hire a team of Native Americans to do the “culling” and a balance of nature somewhat similar to what occurred in the park before Columbus would be in effect. Elk, Deer, Bighorns, Pronghorns and White-tailed Jack Rabbits would benefit by having more vegetation available and the wolves, bears, coyotes and other scavengers would have more to eat as well.
Why not just let them recolonize out of the park, or other areas? These bison are valuable, there are many place that want them. I don’t know why killing is always the go-to response for everything? We’re all up in arms (literally these days) about brucellosis, but can’t seem to muster the same enthusiasm for CWD? Because we like elk and deer, and don’t like bison, to put it simply.
I don’t know how anyone can just blithely say what would return things to Pre-Columbian state, except for the obvious, and it’s much too late for that. 🙁
The other thing that is wrong with that argument is that elk and deer contribute to overbrowsing in a big way, but yet no hunting is allowed in the National Parks for them except for Grand Teton I believe. Elk also can also transmit brucellosis. The only reason bison are persecuted is because that’s the way it always has been, I truly believe it is symbolic of the stranglehold Euro-Americans have had on this nation, it’s like we’re afraid we’ll lose everything if we give an inch to our Native peoples, and wildlife that was here at the time such as wolves and bison. It’s time we entered the 21st century.
Ida, we probably all agree that more habitat where bison are tolerated is good, but there are agreements about that, and those are what needs changing. Larry is giving ideas for what is best to do if the density is too high in YNP (he’s also saying the density is too high there). He’s not saying there are too many bison in North America.
Possible counter-argument to leaving dead bison lie: it will act as a buffer for the predators, resulting in greater minimum densities. Sounds OK short term, cause predators seem not too high right now. Long term might result in less of their other prey (like elk). What’s best depends on your valuations. Might appear more stable for large mammals, but whether that’s “good” is terribly complicated, and depends on values. Classic examples for me is whether grouse cycle or lynx/hare cycles are “good”, cause to human eye at first glance evening out the swings seems better, partly cause it seems to serve our best interests (steady exploitation) but also that parts of the cycle seem wasteful (ghastly even) to our meager mortal eyes, but who can predict the effects over long periods (e.g on forests and ten thousand things). We can get tricky and kill and leave bison when we feel predators are low, remove bison corpses when predators are high. It’s playing God either way, cause to do or not to do are both doing something.
I forgot to add to my Ida comment: elk and deer are more under control it seems, thanks to wolf/bear. Bison less so.
I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t like the mindset that we know what’s best and can fix everything; we’ve created the current mess. Wolves at one time were better at hunting bison, and it may have something to do with pack size? But because we.must.keep.wolve.under.our.thumbs obsessively, we keep messing things up. It’s all overblown, and we don’t need to meddle as much as we do, making things worse!
A series of short videos on the dilemma:
I live in a county (in Montana) that is roughly 2,000 square miles larger than Yellowstone National Park. 2/3 of that area is public lands. Beaverhead County supports anywhere from 80 to over 100 thousand head of cattle.
Is the American public doing enough to secure the future (and safety) of just 5 thousand head of wild buffalo? Which from what I gather, only about half of that population, venture outside the park during winter months? Did the buy out of grazing allotments on Horse Butte not help reduce the friction?
Is the American public doing enough to secure the future (and safety) of just 5 thousand head of wild buffalo?
Thank you for pointing this out, Nancy. It makes all the arguments for killing them ring even more false.
As far as the other article goes, as in the wolves returning, I don’t think anybody expects that buffalo will thunder across the plains in the millions again, only that there is so much more habitat that they can return to.
Ida, I’m sure the above link was posted on TWN within the past year.
There are a couple of videos in this article that are pretty graphic when it comes to Yellowstone wolves hunting bison but no more graphic, IMHO, than say a slaughter house in the Midwest, catering to the needs of human consumption of beef, pork or chicken.
With wildlife, there’s always the chance you’re the next meal or not, to predators, depending on strength/weather conditions/ comrades coming to your aid 🙂
But it can get very confusing and complicated when it comes to human needs.
Yellowstone according to some, a couple of decades ago, had become over run with elk (close to 20 thousand?) Believe their destruction to grass lands, meadows, streams, in the Park, was well documented.
Wolves were reintroduced back in the middle 1990’s and a decade or so later, the elk population were reduced to reasonable numbers, by wolves, but to the dismay of the fringe elk hunters, outfitters, etc. who’d taken advantage of those elk populations $$ that also migrated in and out of the Park.
Meddling with what’s left of wild bison populations has been a sore point and a concern for decades here in the land of cows and stuff to hunt.
Interesting comment by Larry:
“Elk, Deer, Bighorns, Pronghorns and White-tailed Jack Rabbits would benefit by having more vegetation available”
Got to sort it out. I see elk, deer and pronghorn often throughout the spring, summer and fall months where I live but I don’t live in a park, that has the task of conserving and protecting its wildlife, our wildlife.
Yes, I see what you mean.
“Today we have enough genetically pure bison that we can bring the species back,” Ingebretsen said. “Probably not to what it was — I mean the millions of animals that crossed the Great Plains is probably a pipe dream. I don’t think you’ll ever see that again. But we can certainly increase the number of genetically pure bison. To do that in Minnesota, without relying on outward sources of breeding, we have to have a herd of roughly 500 animals”
Why not outward sources if they are genetically pure? Like Yellowstone bison?
I don’t think it is saying that bringing in genes from Yellowstone (or such) is bad, perhaps quite the contrary (it should increase genetic variation), but rather, that if the MN population is less than around 500, that it would become essential to bring in new genes regularly to prevent loss of fitness from inbreeding. Even if isolated pockets of bison had populations bigger than that, some transfers between herds might be good, genetically at least. Trading calf males is generally advised (by state extension agencies) as safer for humans than trying to collect semen and transferring it – I know I wouldn’t be volunteering. I visit a bison ranch near Metz, MI. Always fun. I buy nothing.
Thanks for link.
Here’s an older article about how bison are more a part of the wolves’ diet. I know I’ve read other articles about this. Without our messing things up, they’d keep each other in balance, or the wolves would lose a life in the process, or a bison calf. Humans will gasp in horror about the natural balance – it reminds me of the red tailed hawk making his home on 5th Ave. in NYC, and helping himself to the Central Park pigeons. Some gasped about how cruel that is, but thought nothing of mass poisonings to keep pigeon numbers down. Makes no sense at all.
I thought this was interesting reading, I haven’t finished it yet but I thought I’d share it. It may already be posted somewhere?
And this, has the bison hunt already started?
Just got this little piece of news:
I have yet to read the entire release. It means a lot but if these animals continue to be harassed on their travels into the park, it will only be part of the battle.
A big thank you to the BFC too, and the Native American tribes that are on the committee – a lot to be happy about this season. I’m sure that it will not go over well for some, but this is a big step in the right direction. To think that people came here, destroyed what was here, and tried to rebuild in their own image is appalling. We know now that we should try to preserve and work with, not annihilate.