The Bison Management Plan was adopted in 2000 “to ensure domestic cattle in portions of Montana adjacent to Yellowstone National Park are protected from brucellosis… and to ensure the wild and free-ranging nature of the bison herd.” It has failed on both counts.
Cattle passed the brucella virus to wild bison over a century ago. While these same bison mix freely with cattle in Wyoming without consequence, Montana refuses even to accord bison the status of “wildlife”—unless it is for the purpose of allowing them to be shot at close range by hunters. Now that brucellosis is endemic to Montana’s wildlife, what is the point of preventing bison from roaming freely with elk in our wildlife refuges and on our public wildlands?
The American Buffalo is an emblematic species. Millions of Americans travel to Yellowstone National Park every year to view and photograph them. And most Americans—including the Chairman of the House Sub-Committee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands—are outraged by the continuing slaughter here in Montana.
Governor, how can you continue to justify this inhumane “zero tolerance” policy?
Brucellosis ceased to be a serious health threat to humans when we began pasteurizing milk in the 1940s. And unlike mad cow disease, brucellosis infected meat is actually safe to eat. The called-for “eradication” of brucellosis would require nothing less than a state-sponsored wildlife holocaust, as all elk herds in the Northern Rockies intermingle, and other wildlife species are carriers as well.
So is this an economic issue?
During Ben Kane's administration, ranchers sold off their cattle herds and replaced them with free-range bison. Of course, a few other things happened during his administration as well...
Read the entire article here: Open Letter to Gov. Brian Schweitzer: Take Back Our Public Lands.