For the first time in decades, herds of wild buffalo might be fostered and protected in areas outside Yellowstone National Park.
Buffalo from America’s oldest National Park habitually migrate outside the park boundaries every winter in search of food. This concerns cattle ranchers as buffalo sometimes carry the disease brucellosis, a bacterial infection that can cause spontaneous abortions in cattle. For years, wildlife officials have carried out systemic slaughter of migrating buffalo to protect livestock. But now there’s a plan in the works that may save the only remaining wild gene pool of buffalo in the world.
The Department of the Interior has proposed moving Yellowstone bison captured outside the park to management ranges in the Badlands of South Dakota or Great Sand Dunes in Colorado. Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer seems to support this plan on the condition that roaming bison will only be captured after the annual bison hunt, and remaining animals will be quarantined in a Montana facility to be tested for brucellosis. Disease-free animals will be relocated by the DOI while those that test positive will be slaughtered.
No proposals have yet been approved, and much remains to be decided before anything is done, but if everything goes forward as this sounds, then wild bison will roam in other parts of their ancestral ranges once again.
Have questions or comments? Send me an email.