Elk deemed mostly responsible for spreading disease to livestock
The most rapidly spreading strains of brucellosis, a disease with implications for livestock and wildlife management, appear to be centered around areas where humans feed elk to keep populations artificially high for hunters.
Those findings come from scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey and partners, who studied how the disease is transmitted back and forth between cattle, bison and elk in the greater Yellowstone area. Notably, the researchers found that a fifth, genetically distinct strain, originated, and was mainly found in bison of Yellowstone National Park. This strain appeared to be spreading less rapidly. Continue reading “Study: Yellowstone bison not to blame for brucellosis”→
New Montana policy could end annual bison slaughter
Wild bison in the Greater Yellowstone area will have more room to roam, as Montana Governor Steve Bullock this week agreed to expand year-round habitat for wild bison in Montana outside Yellowstone National Park.
FRISCO — Wildlife managers in Montana are exploring options for restoring bison to parts of the state where they haven’t roamed in more than 100 years.
Bison were nearly eliminated from their historic range more than a century ago. By the late 1890s, only 1,000 bison remained in North America, and most of these animals were held on private ranches where they were interbred with cattle. By 1902, only 25 bison remained in the wild in the U.S., seeking refuge deep within Yellowstone National Park. Today, this Yellowstone herd numbers around 4,500 animals. Continue reading “Biodiversity: Montana eyes bison restoration”→
FRISCO — Despite polls showing widespread public support for relocating Yellowstone bison to start herds in appropriate locations across the state, the National Park Service has once again started rounding up wild bison for slaughter.
The animals wander out of the park each winter searching for food at lower elevations. This year’s killing program is slated to be the largest in seven years to cap the bison population in the park at 3,500, part of a settlement with the state of Montana over now-discredited concerns about brucellosis and carrying capacity.
FRISCO — Bison may not be getting much love in Montana, where livestock producers have repeatedly blocked efforts to restore herds outside Yellowstone National Park, but the federal government has identified ways to address concerns about brucellosis, according to a comprehensive new report on bison conservation released last week.
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of Interior, the report “reaffirms the commitment to work with states, tribes and other partners to promote the restoration of bison to appropriate and well-managed levels on public and tribal lands.”
“The Interior Department has more than a century-long legacy of conserving the North American bison, and we will continue to pursue the ecological and cultural restoration of the species on behalf of the American public and American Indian tribes who have a special connection to this iconic animal,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. Continue reading “Biodiversity: Feds take new look at bison restoration”→
FRISCO — A Montana district court judge this month rejected yet another attempt by ranchers to block the restoration of bison in the northern plains. The ranchers sought to have wild bison classified as livestock rather than wildlife, but Montana District Judge John McKeon ruled last week that wild bison are wildlife under state law — regardless of their confinement in quarantine.
A legal classification as livestock would have transferred jurisdiction over quarantined bison from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks to the Montana Department of Livestock—a move that threatened to impede any future efforts to restore native bison as a wildlife species in appropriate portions of their historic habitat.
FRISCO — A herd of bison brought to northern Arizona in the early 1900s has moved from a state-run wildlife area into Grand Canyon National Park, and now park rangers want to develop a plan to manage the animals.
Initially, the bison were managed in the House Rock Wildlife Area for big game hunters, but in the late 1990s, the animals have pioneered their way to the top of the Kaibab Plateau and into Grand Canyon National Park.
Resource managers say combination of public hunt pressure, drought and fire, and reduced forage quality in House Rock Valley during the 1990s may have contributed to the bison moving through Saddle Mountain Wilderness and onto the higher elevations of the Kaibab Plateau. Over the past several years, very few bison have returned to wildlife area. Most now spend a majority of their time inside the park. Continue reading “Grand Canyon National Park eyes bison plan”→