The following article is from Reuters:
Conservation groups asked a federal judge on Thursday to grant a stay of execution for hundreds of buffalo who strayed outside of Yellowstone National Park.
Nearly 400 of the nation’s last purebred herd of buffalo, or bison, have been herded into a fenced enclosure at the park this week after the search for food led the animals into nearby Montana, where they are not tolerated.
The state’s billion-dollar livestock industry fears Yellowstone bison will infect cattle with brucellosis, a disease that causes cows to abort.
That is the primary reason for killing herds of buffalo escaping the deep snows of Yellowstone to forage in historic winter grazing grounds in the lowlands of Montana.
Government officials this week announced that captured bison exposed to brucellosis would be shipped to slaughterhouses.
That plan came to a temporary halt on Thursday after several conservation groups sought a restraining order in federal court.
The legal motion is part of a broader federal lawsuit by sportsmen and environmentalists, who argue government land managers are violating their own regulations and the public trust by chasing, confining and killing Yellowstone’s wild bison.
“These bison are incredibly important; the idea of just slaughtering some is mind-boggling to me,” said Glenn Hockett, head of Gallatin Wildlife Association. The Montana-based group represents hunters and anglers and is one of the several organizations suing over the bison.
Testing of 161 captive bison revealed that 53 had been exposed to brucellosis and were candidates for slaughter. But no shipments have been scheduled, said Yellowstone spokesman Al Nash.
Nash said park attorneys had not yet responded to environmentalists’ court filing to stop the slaughter. He said officials would continue to test and sort animals, which are in fenced pastures with water and hay.
Nash said an additional 47 bison were penned on Thursday, bringing to at least 368 the number of captive animals.
No bison were sent to slaughter in last year’s mild winter. But this winter’s higher-than-average snowfall in Yellowstone and bitter temperatures means hundreds more hungry buffalo are staging to leave the park.
“Most are several miles from the park boundary but bison can cover a lot of ground,” said Nash. “They’re bison, their movements are challenging to predict.”
There is no documented case of wild bison infecting cows with brucellosis, but such a transmission has been produced in a laboratory, said Montana Department of Livestock spokesman Steve Merritt.
More than 3,500 Yellowstone bison have been killed since 2000, mostly by the government. The latest estimate puts the total size of the herd at 3,900.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Jerry Norton)
Posted by Haylie Shipp