Wild Bison Face Grim Fate

Nearly 400 Yellowstone bison are now being held in corrals near Gardiner, Montana where they await their fate.

A plan to slaughter scores of buffalo that strayed from Yellowstone National Park has reignited a debate about the nation’s last purebred herds. Buffalo, or bison, that migrate from Yellowstone into nearby Montana are often killed to prevent them from infecting cattle with brucellosis, a bacterial disease that causes cows to miscarry and can infect people with flu-like symptoms.

The Montana Department of Livestock claims that the bison will spread the disease brucellosis to their livestock and eat grass that ranchers want for their cows; however, no bison-to-cattle transmission of brucellosis has ever been documented. And the ranchers closest to Yellowstone, and most likely affected, support the bison.

All of these bison are now being tested for the disease brucellosis, and those bison that test positive will be slaughtered… soon.

Brucellosis-free bison may be killed as well, since the corrals are only designed to hold 400 bison and federal agents have been aggressively rounding up all the animals that stray from Yellowstone National Park.

These incredibly important animals are among the only bison to carry the bloodlines of our historic herds! They should be allowed to roam free beyond Yellowstone, not executed over exaggerated fears.

Federal officials could easily allow them to roam parts of the 1.8 million-acre Gallatin National Forest. And some Montana tribes stand ready to restore bison – and their historical relationship with them – to their reservations. Defenders has been working closely with the tribes of the Fort Peck and Belknap Reservations in northeast Montana to prepare suitable habitat for these amazing animals.

America’s wild bison can play an important role in balanced, natural ecosystems. They once numbered in the millions, but now only a few thousand true bison remain – mainly confined to Yellowstone.

Bison scientists tell us we need multiple herds of at least 1,000 bison to assure their long term survival, and larger herds to resume their role in nature. The Yellowstone area is one of the only places we can accomplish this, yet our own National Park Service and Forest Service are partners in hazing – and often killing – bison whenever they leave the park.

Without additional habitat, the terrible cycle of corralling and slaughter will continue. Our bison need more places to roam free.

Send your message to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and urge them to stop the slaughter and give our bison the space they need to survive.

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Inga Yandell
Explorer and photo-journalist, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide educational resources and a platform for science exploration.
Inga Yandell

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