Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bison Slaughter in Yellowstone Park: The Cycle Continued At its Highest Rate in Nine Years

An interesting quick summary of the issue of Bison in Yellowstone Park. Of most note are the numbers: “…the number of bison shipped to slaughter this past winter totaled 899. For the bison, that's the deadliest winter since 1,084 were killed nine years ago.”

The author goes on to point out that their ok with this slaughter. Of course, we don’t agree with this.

The author also points out thought that the stated reason for the slaughter - brucellosis – has never been demonstrated to pass from bison to cattle.

So, the real reason for the slaughter is money. I wrote about this here: http://geari.blogspot.com/2006/03/


It's time to break the cycle, solve bison problem


It's the regular cycle of news:

Rivers dry up or flood; hurricanes pummel coasts; fires scorch forests and grasslands; tornadoes pound the Midwest; politicians pontificate; and bison wander from Yellowstone National Park, often fatally and controversially.

With a predictability that rivals any cyclical news event, the continuing dispute over how to deal with Yellowstone's overpopulation of bison spans three decades, and by some measures the issue sometimes seems to get no closer to resolution.

The latest cycle of the running story made a bigger blip on the news radar because the number of bison shipped to slaughter this past winter totaled 899.

For the bison, that's the deadliest winter since 1,084 were killed nine years ago.

We don't have a problem with that. In fact, we'd suggest that if previous range managers' estimates of the optimal herd size are correct, then the number shipped to slaughter should have been closer to 2,500.

That's because the park's bison population going into winter was estimated at 4,900, roughly double the size of herd that managers say the range in the park can comfortably support.

In any case, Gov. Brian Schweitzer is right to want to convene a meeting of the many state and federal agencies with a stake in the fate of the bison.

The issue has been a thorn in the side of at least four Montana governors, the Park Service, wildlife managers, animal rights groups and livestock organizations.

In addition to the fate of individual, wooly symbols of the American West, the brucellosis-free status of Montana's cattle herd also is thought to be at stake.

That's because many of the park's bison carry the disease, and while no one has demonstrated that brucellosis passes from bison to cattle, the fear that it canis everpresent.

Everything should be on the table at such a multijurisdictional meeting, including the possibility of buying out the relative handful of cattle-grazing leases in the area right around the park.

Although news stories about the bison issue seem repetitive from year to year, there has been progress.

A number of details remain to be sorted out — including large ones such as financing.

But if agencies and landowners agree, maybe, finally, we can break the regular cycle of this news story.

Originally published May 23, 2006

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