Yellowstone Bison Pesticide Experiment Provokes Wildlife Activists

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Wildlife activists are protesting a plan to kill an undetermined number of bison from Yellowstone National Park after scientists conduct a birth-control experiment on the animals with an EPA-registered pesticide with the goal of lessening the prevalence of brucellosis in the herd. Brucellosis is common among bison. It is the reason for hazing the bison back into Yellowstone every spring. Brucellosis is costly for ranchers who's cattle come in contact with the disease since it causes aborting of fetuses.

The seven year experiment will be conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a handful of the bison from the Yellowstone herd. Yellowstone last month granted the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) a permit to pen 49 young female bison and four bulls for breeding at a research facility outside the park. The researchers are planning on using a birth control designed for whitetail deer, GonaCon. GonaCon is registered as a pesticide through the Environmental Protection Agency. All bison with brucellosis at the end of the study will be killed, from


arrowflipper's picture

very interesting

I find this article and the information very interesting.  We have two distinct sides at play here.  On one side are the educated scientific people trying to find a cure or solution for a deadly disease.  On the other side are the animal lovers who don't seem to care about the disease or the control of it.  I don't mean to sound mean towards that group of people, but it's been my experience over the years that animal rights groups tend to base their beliefs more on emotional factors and warm fuzzies than on scientific research.

It's amazing to me how much clout these groups have in certain areas.  Or maybe it's more accurate to say how much "money" they have to push their agenda.  I am not anti animal or in favor of cruelty to animals, but on the other hand, I don't ascribe humanity to animals.  They are still animals.

It wouldn't surprise me one little bit if one day we don't see someone getting married to an animal.  And then they'll want medial insurance and social security and all the benefits for their surviving animal.  What a joke!! 

If I were a rancher just outside Yellowstone and my herd of cattle was directly related by bison spreading Brucellosis, I'd think seriously about filing a lawsuit against these animal right's groups for directly causing financial hardship on my ranch.  If someone can sue the government when they hit a moose on the highway, why couldn't a rancher sue PETA when wild bison herds spread Brucellosis to their herd?  Makes sense to me anyway.

I wonder if when they kill all these buffalo, if the meat will be salvaged and given to some organization.  I don't believe that eating animals with Brucellosis poses a threat to humans.  OH, here's a thought, maybe we should feed this meat to people to reduce the human reproduction???  I really didn't mean that.

I don't understand how the

I don't understand how the birth control is going to cure or treat the disease though. It says that brucellosis is spread through the afterbirth- and birthing fluids. The animals are still going to breed that aren't part of the controlled experiment. This just seems like a waste of money experimenting w/ birth control instead of working directly with  curing the brucellosis.

groovy mike's picture

I agree

I agree.  The only positive effect on see for the birth control besides population reduction is reducing the likelihood that a bear or coyote wuld eat the remains whether it be a carcass or afterbirth (strangely like the killing of the bison).  But I really don't klnow much about this topic so I may be missing something big entirely here.

groovy mike's picture

I wonder if the tree huggers might actually be right on this ?

It is interesting that the Montana Department of Livestock plans to kill bison because they carry brucellosis.

This article claims that the testing method used by the Montana Department of Livestock to detect brucellosis in the bison captured from Yellowstone is unreliable.  They go further to say that there has never been a documented transmission of brucellosis from wild bison to livestock; and that the Yellowstone bison do not cross contaminate with cattle because they are not on the same land at the same time.  The article also says that bull bison are incapable of transmitting the disease.

I didn’t know much about brucellosis so I did a little research.     

 This site:

Seems to give weight to the argument above.  It says that the major source of infection is from the milk from infected animals although it can be transmitted through ingestion of raw carcasses.  The Center for Disease control does give a nod f warning to hunters.  Saying that contamination could occur to hunters infected through skin wounds or by accidentally ingesting the bacteria after cleaning infected game animals that they have killed.      Here is a link to much more information if you are interested in reading up on teh limited danger to humans: 


I didn’t see anything here that would indicate that casual contact or grazing on the same ground would transmit the disease from one species to another.  So I wonder if the environmentalist tree huggers might actually be right on this one?  Is the Yellowstone bison herd over populated for their limited range and just need thinning without allowing hunting? That makes me wonder what the scientists in Montana are really up to, or are they just going way on the safe side of caution when there is any possible remote chance of being blamed for transmission?

Ca_Vermonster's picture

I remember watching a show on

I remember watching a show on either Nat Geo, or the Discovery channel in the last couple of years where they followed the animal nutjobs that were trying to block this "hazing".

It was very interesting, watching the Fish and Wildlife service conduct their drives.  They used horses, even a helicopter, to get them back.  All the activists were screaming that the calves would be seperated from their mothers, or that some bison would be driven so hard they'd break bones, or have heart attacks.

However, these activists never look at the other side of thing.  Some of the bison need to be killed, but it will save thousands of other animals, and according tot he article, BILLIONS of dollars worth of cattle.

Edit:  Found it.  It was actually on Planet Green, and it was 2 years ago.  Here was an quick article on it from Billings....