The number of bison in Yellowstone dropped by a staggering amount this winter. According to this CNN report, the population fell from more than 4,700 to just 2,300 since November. What’s causing the decline? Read inside for more.
Much of the country faced a harsher than normal winter this year, and the Yellowstone area was no different. According to this report, 700 bison died as a result of starvation while 1,600 more were killed as a result of efforts to control brucellosis.
Montana’s cattlemen are at the center of the slaughter. Even the smallest trace of brucellosis could spell doom for the industry.
Montana has spent millions of dollars over the years to get brucellosis eradicated from our livestock,” said Martin Davis, who has a cattle ranch within roaming distance north of the park. “And to put that in jeopardy – no one wants that to happen.”
Control of the bison population is essential, Davis said.
“Bottom line is, there’s too many of them. They’ve got to be managed. They ran out of pasture. They’re eating themselves out of house and home.”
Obviously cattle ranchers in the area are interested in protecting their valuable invesment as well as herds belonging to fellow ranchers. But with brucellosis transfer so difficult to document, are the efforts overly protective? The program to bring the bison back has worked and herd numbers have been strong in recent years.
The article goes on to point out that private property and grazing rights are an issue as well. If a harsh winter forces bison to seek out other sources of food, bison will inevitably travel onto private land searching for grass.
So how do we balance preservation of this natural resource with protecting the rights of property owners and the cattle industry?
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