Fight to Keep Bison Inside Yellowstone
From a news story by
CNN San Francisco Reporter David Mattingly
"Well, maybe you could ski over towards us," says a volunteer into his two-way radio while hiking through the snow of Yellowstone National Park.
They are volunteers racing against time.
"He should be right over this edge."
Armed with radios and binoculars, they comb the southern Montana forest in search of wayward bison. Buffalo, most people call them, have made the big mistake of wandering outside of Yellowstone National Park.
"Unfortunately, they have a zero tolerance policy" says one of the volunteers.
Once outside, the bison are subject to the controversial Montana policy called hazing. This video from a bison protection group shows it in action with state helicopters and snowmobiles chasing the bison back into the park.
It is part of an elaborate effort to prevent the bison from infecting local cattle with brucellosis, a reproductive disease that causes cows to abort.
"The state of Montana has spent thirty years and thirty-four million dollars to eradicate that disease that allows our state to be brucellosis free," says a Montana Department of Livestock official.
From here, it would seem that the bison are so far away from everything that they couldn’t possibly be involved in a controversy, but just a quarter of a mile from here is the park boundary. If the bison cross that boundary, they are fair game for the state of Montana with possible hazing, capture, or worse.
The problem exploded in 1996 when an unusually harsh winter sent thousands of hungry bison out of the park in search of food. Over a thousand were shot and killed. Since the winter of 1997, the state reports just 317 bison killed. More than four thousand [have been] successfully hazed back into the park.
But today there are a thousand more bison in Yellowstone Park than management plans call for, creating concerns that another severe winter could lead to a repeat mass slaughter.
"We’re dealing with a hundred head of cattle next to Yellowstone Park that is driving a policy that is costing America’s tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars and slaughtering the last remnant wild herd of buffalo in America," says an opponent of the policy.
[Its] a small price to pay according to livestock officials, when it comes to Montana cattle, a billion dollar plus industry, where any new outbreak of brucellosis, they say, could potentially cost ranchers millions.
Brucellosis is a highly infectious disease. It is caused by the bacteria Brucella. The bacteria can infect even humans. If people come in contact with sick animals or contaminated animal by-products, they can get sick. Some of the symptoms are back pains, headaches, flu and weakness. In underdeveloped countries, they are many more cases of animals with brucellosis. The United States has 100-200 cases per year.