Friday, February 15, 2008

Yellowstone Bison Still Victims of Ignorance – Even Calves (babies) Sent to Slaughter

This story really points out the true reality of Bison in Yellowstone. For one, anytime they even slightly stray from the artificial boundaries they have to face, they are harassed. Two, the only solution the government ever comes up with is slaughter. Sadly, this happened again, and will include putting 17 calves (babies) to slaughter.

As stated below, “…under a controversial program to limit contact between bison and cattle, state and park officials were sending another batch of 40 captured bison, including 17 calves, to a slaughterhouse, in a move further inflaming the passions of animal rights campaigners.”

Article:

Yellowstone’s Departed: Bison Calves Head to Slaughter, a Long-Lost Hare

http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/14/a-vanishing-from-yellowstone-and-bison-calves-head-to-slaughter/

By Andrew C. Revkin


A biologist proposes reintroducing the long-vanished white-tailed jack rabbit to Yellowstone National Park. (Credit: Joel Berger, WCS)So-called wildlife is ever less wild these days, it seems, and ever more managed, something like props on a stage. Here’s a brief update on the comings and goings of some mammals in Yellowstone National Park, where a new study finds there was a mysterious vanishing long ago of the white-tailed jack rabbit, not only from the sprawling park but the greater Yellowstone ecosystem all around. Some biologists seek its reintroduction. In the meantime, the park’s expanding herd of bison is finding itself in harm’s way once again.

First, the rabbits. Joel Berger, a University of Montana researcher and biologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society (who was just interviewed in Science Times), scoured records back into the 1800’s and found that the jack rabbit was abundant 130 years ago, yet no one has seen one since 1991 in Yellowstone, with only three spotted in the adjacent Grand Teton National Park since 1978.

The disappearance, cause unknown, may mean the ecosystem that is considered the norm in Yellowstone may not, in fact, reflect its historical biological patterns. This species gap could, for instance, explain why coyotes there have been hunting and killing young elk and pronghorn antelope more than is typical, according to Dr. Berger, who reported his findings in the journal Oryx. His paper suggests that wildlife managers consider reintroducing the jack rabbits into the two parks. “Reintroduction may result in the establishment of dynamic ecological processes that were intact before rabbits vanished from the ecosystem,” Dr. Berger said.

My guess is that reintroduction might go a tad easier than others attempted in and around Yellowstone, most notable that of the gray wolf, which I blogged on here recently when neighboring states were given expanded latitude to allow hunters to kill the predators.

It’s a strange reality of these times that parks, which even at the vast scale of Yellowstone are islands, have to be managed. Species are added or culled to suit the limited real estate, satisfy our longing for restoring some pre-modern ecological norm, or sometimes — as in the case of wolves and bison — to accommodate the interests of neighbors, like Montana’s ranchers.

Bison are hemmed in and increasingly wander off park property, particularly in winter. They’ve been harassed by helicopter to drive them back (see the video on YouTube below, posted with permission). But more and more are being sent to slaughter, as well.

On Thursday, under a controversial program to limit contact between bison and cattle, state and park officials were sending another batch of 40 captured bison, including 17 calves, to a slaughterhouse, in a move further inflaming the passions of animal rights campaigners.

As the Billings Gazette reported, the calves had initially been slated to go to a quarantined research facility, but federal officials couldn’t finish negotiations over a necessary land lease.

The roundups of bison — hundreds per year lately — have been done ostensibly to limit chances that a livestock disease, brucellosis, can move from the bison to cattle. (It is somewhat ironic to some opponents of the bison killings that the disease originated in domesticated livestock, and no transmission from wild bison to cattle has been documented. More on these questions is in a pdf here.)

The practice has inflamed passions between ranchers and animal-rights campaigners led by the Buffalo Field Campaign, which today kicked off a week of protests.

No comments:

Search for More Content

Custom Search
Bookmark and Share

Past Articles