Brucellosis Bison Heading Back into Park


Bison that tested positive for brucellosis exposure are now being let back into Yellowstone National Park.

According to a press release from the Park (read it here), a phased release of nearly 700 bison that have been held in fenced pastures at the Stephens Creek Bison Capture Facility this winter is now underway.  Some have been there since the end of January.

Park managers have determined there is now sufficient new forage at low elevation areas to hold the bison in the Park if they are released in small groups.  That slow release started Saturday. 

The press release states that all bison which have been held at Stephen’s Creek will be released back into the Park.  Last week, the Park’s Al Nash told us that 40{dfeadfe70caf58f453a47791a362966239aaa64624c42b982d70b175f7e3dda2} of the bison tested for brucellosis while at Stephen’s Creek, before the facility got too full to test, were positive for exposure to the disease.  If you do the math and assume the bison captured and not tested followed that 40{dfeadfe70caf58f453a47791a362966239aaa64624c42b982d70b175f7e3dda2} exposure trend as well, this means 280 of the animals being released back into the Park did test positive for exposure. 

Al Nash, Chief of Public Affairs at Yellowstone National Park spoke with Northern Ag Network Monday afternoon.  He confirmed that bison that have tested positive for brucellosis exposure are being let back into the Park.

He explained the set of circumstances that have led the Park to divert from their strategy of processing any bison that test positive for exposure while in captivity.

Al also explained that a bison that tests positive for exposure to brucellosis may or may not be infectious.

Al told us that 67 of the bison have calved so far, which means that there will be a good number left to calve.  If that takes place in the Park, placenta possibly carrying the bacteria will be on the ground in the Park where elk and bison cohabitate.  Bison handle brucellosis differently than cattle and it doesn’t often lead to abortions.  Obvious worries for those in the cattle industry are that this will only add to the growth of the brucellosis epidemic.

© Northern Ag Network 2011

Haylie Shipp



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