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Yellowstone Bison In Jeopardy


This past week over 500 bison left Yellowstone National Park in search of food in lower elevations.  When the bison leave Yellowstone, federal and state authorities enter the picture in a move to prevent contact with cattle.  Bison are known to carry a disease called brucellosis that can impact cattle.  Cattle ranchers a financially strong constituency has done everything to keep bison away from their cattle.  Not all bison carry the disease; in fact there has not been a recorded bison to cattle transmission.  When the bison head out they are rounded up and slaughtered.  The 562 bison that left the park have been rounded up and are waiting to be slaughtered.  There are 3800 bison in Yellowstone, and this represents a significant loss to their number.  Conservationist groups sued to stop the slaughter, but a federal judge is allowing it to go on.  In a surprise move the governor of Montana blocked the importation of the parks bison into Montana for 90 days.  The move is to force the federal government to come up with a better solution than transporting the bison through Montana to slaughterhouses.  The bison are following historical migration patterns out of the park into lower elevations for winter grazing.  Unfortunately the lands next to the park have become ranches.  A long shot solution to ending this slaughter and future ones would be to enact eminent domain and remove the ranchers from the bison’s path.  Obviously this would be a difficult and expensive solution, but it could ensure the bison’s right to migrate onto its historical grounds. One of the ironies of managing the various herds found in Yellowstone is that the elk are also found to carry this disease.  Ranchers have no problem allowing the elk herds to migrate out of the park because in the fall they are allowed to sell hunting rights to shooting the elk.  Ranchers can make money on the elk, but not on the bison.  This is rancher capitalism at play in dealing with America’s most iconic land mammal.  The federal government must come up with a better solution to protecting all interests instead of taking the easy way out and shooting this magnificent creature.


  1. What little piece of Natural American History this country has left & it is still being squeezed out. A natural migratory pattern should NOT be disrupted for any cause by man. What can be done to assure a safe journey for these masterful beasts in which they deserve? Ranchers seem to have too many issues with too many things. Bison? Wolves? Land? What next for pitty sakes! Shame of them for their ignorance with understanding that they need to not take out what they cannot control, instead learn to make adjustments to ensure harmony for all. Balance not selfishness & greed. Have we not learned this lesson previously with what our fore-fathers presented & lost? Just sickening that this country is still so barbaric with principals such as this. Sickening!

  2. @al – i think that conservatives think about the Bison the same way they think about the homeless.

    the cattle that ranchers have is an invasive species. european cattle. they shit in the water, their hooves are not made for walking in america – the hooves are flat and they flatten and kill the land, whereas the Bison’s hooves are like little tilling machines which till the land and cause things to grow – Bison also don’t shit in the water. usually invasive species are rounded up and sent back or killed. maybe ranchers ought to rethink what’s best for america.


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