Conserving Wild Bison: Finding Space for an American Icon

Bison might seem to be an obvious addition to wildlife at Texas’ state and national parks, but there are problems to be overcome. Rick Wallen, lead biologist for Yellowstone’s bison program, explains the challenges and successes of managing wild bison in the 21st century.

Ranching, wildlife management, finance, oil & gas, real estate development and management.
  • Most of the time they (those who capture) don’t even test the Buffalo for Brucellosis, they’re hazed, sometimes for long periods of times (even out of the park), they are captured & slaughtered & last I heard the meat isn’t given to any of the Indian tribes around or anyone else. The Deer or Elk in the area carry the disease….so why don’t these biologists kill off those herds? Many of the Montana ranchers would soon as kill all the Yellowstone Bison as let them roam. The bison compete for grasses that their cattle needs, they don’t like sharing. This group is out there, trying to help (at least from what I’ve seen over the years).
    There’s a Park around Lincoln, Nebraska I think that has a herd of Buffalo that they protect (they’re huge).

    • I have never understood why surplus bison cannot be sold or gifted to landowners willing to buy or adopt them. Rules should be changed to allow this.

      We need a ‘work-around’ not a confrontation between conservationists and ranchers. Instead of vilifying ranchers, let’s address their legitimate health concerns because, when their herds are infected, they are destroyed. An effective bison brucellosis vaccination and treatment protocol is badly needed. It would remove the basic objection to bison and pave the way for widespread bison reintroductions. This justifies a major spending effort in my opinion. So let’s find a way to get serious about finding funding for this.

      Brucellosis is not a made-up problem: Here is a good summary of this topic, titled “Brucellosis and Yellowstone Bison“:

      Thanks for writing.

      • I am definitely not trying to “vilify” ranchers, except for those who are going against the Bison. And I am definitely not trying to say that they don’t have a legitimate concern about it. But what I am saying is that the Yellowstone Bison are being hazed outside of the park boundaries, this has caused the cows to get aborted. They have been rounded up & killed without being tested.

        What about killing off the elk or deer? They get in with the ranchers cattle & expose them to the disease more than the buffalo do.

        I wish more Ranchers could work with conservationist & biologists to save the Buffalo & their ability to migrate & yes, a vaccination should have been developed by now…they have it for cattle…why not buffalo.

        I don’t understand why the bison that “escape” aren’t automatically tested when they are rounded up & as you say “gifted”, but the tribes around get first dibs, then homeless shelter/soup kitchens, then ranchers & the rest of the community.

        I’ve read a lot about the senseless hazing & potentially unnecessary deaths of these majestic animals (because they are rarely tested first)…..are we trying to relive history once again, by wiping out the wild Buffalo…this time to make way for ranchers & suburbs?

        • You make some very good points.

          Wildlife disease can be addressed. In some ways, controlling brucellosis in Yellowstone bison will be easier because the animals are not shipped all over the continent, or confined in feedlots or in ways that spreads epidemics.

          The vaccine only works alongside management practices. So, we will have to change the hands-off, ‘quarantine’ mentality that has spread the disease within bison herds and to other species. And again, park and forest managers, ranchers, landowners and conservationists must start thinking holistically, and, treat each other as allies instead of adversaries. This is the greatest bison challenge.

          Let us keep at this.

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