In January 2016, Yellowstone National Park officials planned to kill nearly 20 percent of the bison population, due to pressure from Montana cattle ranchers, who see the bison as a threat to their livestock. But this plan to cull up to 900 animals may be halted in favor of a proposal to test and relocate them to a protected reservation.
Yellowstone National Park has one of the largest, and most genetically important bison herds remaining – it is the only place in the United States where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times. In fact, Yellowstone’s bison are one of America’s greatest conservation stories, as decades of hunting in the late 1800’s brought them to the brink of extinction. Thankfully, the park’s efforts in the 1900s to protect these animals proved successful and today, the population continues to recover. Despite this incredible turnaround, today’s cattle ranchers are pressuring park officials to decrease bison numbers so that they do not interfere with expanding cattle stocks.
Much of the cattle ranchers’ fears stem from the faulty assumption that the wild herds could infect their cows with brucellosis, a disease that has been virtually eliminated from Montana cattle. However, the basis of this fear is completely bogus as there is not a single recorded instance of brucellosis transmissions from bison to cattle disease. In addition, the bison culls would take place without checking if the animals were infected, but now there is something you can do to help these iconic animals. Officials are considering a plan to test and relocate healthy bison to a quarantine facility at the Ft. Peck Reservation, and you can voice your support.
You can tell Yellowstone Park officials that you are on board with this relocation plan, by submitting a comment directly to Yellowstone officials. This would give the bison a chance to live free from the threat of hunters or slaughter houses, and help continue to contribute to the bison recovery. To lend your voice to Yellowstone’s bison, click here.
Image source: Herbert/National Parks Service