article by George Wuerthner
“As most of our seasoned readers are aware, the main thrust of SFTHH is to bring to the forefront the plight of our American equines be they domestic or wild. But while being tuned into the misconduct of out of control government agencies we cannot help but be aware of the cruelty rained down upon other wild species such as the Bison, Wolves, Bears, Cougar and even Coyotes. What is happening to yet another 4 legged treasure, the Bison, is unexcusable and a often witnessed example of government thinking with their pocketbook and not listening to the wishes of the citizens. Today George Wuerthner shares more information and ammunition in the fight to save the bison. We applaud his expertise and will move forward as suggested. Keep the faith, my friends.” ~ R.T.
“Welfare Ranchers go after yet another native wild species…”
The Louvre Museum in France houses some of the most famous art works in the world, including paintings by such famous artists as Rembrandt and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
What would you think if you heard the famous Louvre Museum began to throw out and burn in the streets these priceless masterpieces saying they needed to make room for the remaining art work?
How do you think the art world would respond if they suggested that a way to save the art was for the museum to build another wing to house the paintings or even give the paintings to other museums who would gladly accept them?
But instead of following such sensible advice, the French government prohibited expansion of the museum or even the transport of the world’s heritage to other museums and argued the only solution they would considered was to burn paintings? I’m certain it would be an international scandal.
But this is exactly what the Montana government is doing by the senseless slaughter of our national mammal —Yellowstone’s genetically unique and wild bison. These bison are a global heritage that the state of Montana is treating as if they are expendable and valueless asset.
Even the paintings by art masters are not as priceless as the genetically pure Yellowstone bison that are a consequence of a long line of evolution, yet Montana is treating these magnificent beasts as if they were vermin.
Worse, the justification for this butchery is flawed. One excuse is that the livestock industry is threatened by brucellosis, a disease that can cause abortions in livestock. The other major reason given for rounding up bison and slaughtering them is some assert there are too many animals for the park.
Both are questionable assertions, but even if they were valid arguments, there are viable solutions that do not require the destruction of these animals.
Fact: there is no documented transmission of brucellosis from wild bison to livestock. The only examples of wildlife transmission to cattle is the result of elk, not bison.
Fact: Yellowstone’s bison are genetically unique. Most bison herds in the United States have cattle genes mixed into their genome, but Yellowstone’s bison are one of the few genetically pure populations.
Fact: There is an abundance of public land on the Custer-Gallatin National Forest and other state and federal lands outside of Yellowstone National Park where bison could winter or even live year-round.
Fact: There are other large blocks of public land within the historic range of bison that could support herds such as Montana’s Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, Wyoming’s Red Desert, and the Vermillion Basin of Colorado.
Fact: There are numerous Indian tribes that wish to start or augment their own bison herds if only Montana would allow them to be transported.
Fact: Montana’s livestock industry will not lose its brucellosis free status simply because one or two herds are infected.
Fact: There are brucellosis vaccines that are available free of charge to ranchers that can reduce the chances of infection.
Fact: The only way that cattle can become infected with brucellosis is if they consume or lick an aborted bison fetus. This must occur before the bacteria dies or the fetus is consumed by scavengers like ravens, coyotes, and magpies.
Fact: Even if in theory bison cows could abort and transmit the disease to livestock, bison bulls and calves cannot transmit the disease, yet they make up a high percentage of the animals being slaughtered.
Fact: There is simply no scientific or even legitimate rationale for the continued slaughter of this priceless wildlife legacy. The real reason our collective patrimony is being destroyed due to the intransigence of the livestock industry.
Please call or write Governor Bullock and Montana’s Congressional delegation and ask them to work for a solution that treats Yellowstone’s wild bison as the priceless and precious global inheritance they represent.
George Wuerthner is an ecologist who has published 38 books. He divides his time between Bend, Oregon, and Livingston, Montana.