You can read the article that got me wondering this here.
The article talks about the potential slaughter of a large number of Bison that have migrated out of Yellowstone National Park and are moving out into areas where cattle and ranchers exist. There is a supposed concern about a disease known as brucellosis. You can read up on brucellosis here.
The summary is that brucellosis isn’t a very significant disease and is not likely to be transferred to cattle. It can be transferred to cattle, humans, and many other species. Transmission seems to follow an almost AIDS-like pattern. Meaning that you must have a wound make contact, have intercourse, or eat or drink something from an infected animal. Unlike AIDS, brucellosis is not an overly serious disease to humans and appears to be treatable. As with any bacterial infection serious complications can occur but the likelihood doesn’t seem to be greater than a normal cold or flu for example.
I’m not a doctor but from what I have read, I don’t see why the major uproar. This isn’t CWD.
The only problems I see are that Bison take up grazing areas and can be a risk to humans because of the sheer size of the animals. Again, the risk of being hurt is very small. The risk to crops and grazing areas could be significant to ranchers in the immediate vicinity.
It’s a tougher decision than it appears to be on the surface. What should be valued more, the protection of wildlife or the businesses of humans? Generally speaking any rational person would value a human life over that of any wildlife. But there is no immediate threat or danger here. Brucellosis is being spun into a threat but it’s a relative non-issue. So the impact becomes financial.
So now it’s whether or not we value someone’s financial well-being over the well-being of local wildlife. The government goes to great lengths to protect waterways and salamanders or turtles. They regulate and spend like crazy to protect migratory birds and endangered species. Where does the Bison slaughter fit in with this agenda?
Should we be spending all this money and time on any species or environment? We are all entitled to our opinions I suppose.
My take on it is pretty simple. Migration and the search for food is natural. I don’t see why there is a true need to eliminate these animals. I think it makes more sense to attempt to improve habitat within the park to minimize the migrations out of the park. If you provide what the animals need than they will likely stay. That is easier said than done but if you insist on keeping them within boundaries then I view them as pets, not wild animals. Feed them, supplement in the winter, do what it takes to take care of your pets. If they are wild then let them be wild. If the issue is population control than regulate hunting seasons and use the funds to enhance habitat and supplement in the winter.
These are just suggestions and I haven’t looked into the extensive management plan that is in place and I’m not saying that people are doing a terrible job or are idiots or anything like that. I think it’s very obvious that what they are doing isn’t working and it’s not working because the management of the Bison herd does not have a stated purpose that is being followed. That is poor planning.
So I am curious, what is the management goal? Is it to maintain a herd within Yellowstone National Park of a certain size or that can live off the natural resources of the park? Is it to re-establish a wild free ranging herd? Is it simply to make park visitors happy in a glorified petting zoo? What’s the goal?
I would hope the goal is to re-establish a free ranging herd of an American icon that can travel the landscapes and offer hunting opportunities and viewing opportunities across all suitable habitat.
I would hope that there would be honesty from officials and ranchers alike. If you simply want a herd to view in the park, try an ounce of prevention instead of a pound of the cure. Senseless slaughter of animals that don’t represent a real threat to anyone is not a very good solution. Just the easy way out.
That’s my two cents. What’s yours?