December 18, 2008

New Policy Affecting Yellowstone Bison Announced

State and federal officials have settled on letting bison migrate in areas of Montana from Yellowstone National Park: progressive activities anticipated to reduce but not stop a yearly massacre of the animals.

The contract sections off two areas near Yellowstone that bison can stay, concluding a long, divisive issue. Some of the bison can depart from the park and steer clear of an extensively condemned slaughter intended to prevent transmissions of a disease, brucellosis, to cattle.

"This is a huge step in legally recognizing the bison's right to be outside the park," said Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis.

An excess of 3,000 migrating bison have been killed by hunters recently, counting the 1,601 shot last winter.

Wednesday's accomplishment was encouraged by a new Government Accountability Office study that harshly condemned the federal government's part in the slaughter.

Livestock interests had opposed modifications to the massacres, while conservationists and bison advocacy groups disapproved of people being rigid in addressing the issue. Many groups, like the Natural Resources Defense Council and Greater Yellowstone Coalition, commended Wednesday's arrangement, but some said it was not strong enough.

Approximately half the park's bison have brucellosis, which causes pregnant animals to abort their young ahead of time. After two illnesses of this kind emerged in Montana cattle herds, federal officials stated that cattle ranchers statewide partake in an expensive testing and vaccination agenda.

No wild bison-to-cattle brucellosis transmissions have been announced. State and federal animal-health officials have noted that elk are a contributing factor to the disease spread in seven infected cattle herds recently, counting the two in Montana and others.

The plan accepted on Wednesday lets an infinite amount of bison live, during the winter, on 10,000 acres of land west of Yellowstone, called Horse Butte. The animals do not have to be tested for brucellosis.

North of Yellowstone is a little group of bison that are permitted to move through the privately held Royal Teton Ranch. There are no active cattle operations at this location.


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