Slaughter Plus Genetic Flaw Could Doom Yellowstone’s Bison!

UPDATE: February 9, 2011

Yellowstone Bison Slaughter Debated in Court


UPDATE: February 8, 2011

The Department of the Interior, headed by rancher Ken Salazar, is asking a federal judge not to interfere  with the slaughter of Yellowstone’s iconic bison.

It’s so comforting to have a rancher in charge of the Interior. We can only thank President Obama,  he appointed him.

Maybe Mr. Salazar should read the study I posted below to realize slaughtering Yellowstone’s bison may create the perfect storm, which could  lead to their demise. Protecting the “sacred cow” is all the Interior and Montana cattle industry seem to care about, not bison losing their vital genetics. We can’t have those pesky beasts wandering out of the park, like they’ve done for thousands of years, before Yellowstone existed, now can we?

Give up the brucellosis scare tactic Montana cattle industry and tell us why you really don’t want bison outside the park. Bison competing with cattle for grazing land? Come on fess up!! The feds just admitted it.

“Federal officials also claim that the animals could cause property damage, compete with livestock for grazing and destroy crops.”

Feds ask judge to stay out of bison slaughter issue

Posted: Feb 8, 2011 7:10 AM by KPAX News Staff
Updated: Feb 8, 2011 7:11 AM

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Interior has asked a federal judge in Montana not to intervene in the pending slaughter of bison captured after migrating out of Yellowstone National Park.

CLICK HERE to read the rest of the article.


Yellowstone’s bison are under the gun. The Montana Department of Livestock with cooperation from the National Park Service are rounding them up like cattle and vowing to kill any bison that tests positive for brucellosis.  Hundreds of bison have been placed in holding pens for the crime of leaving the park in search of food.  The “brucellosis disease scare” is just a cover IMO. The cattle industry does not want to share grazing land with the bison, they fear bison competing with their cows. That’s what this is all about.

Elk carry the disease and they are allowed to freely roam in Montana without being rounded up, tested and slaughtered. What does that tell you?

A brief  has been filed by Western Watersheds ProjectThe Buffalo Field Campaign and other wildlife groups, asking for an emergency injunction  to stop the slaughter.

Outrage is continuing to mount over this tragedy. Now a new threat to the bison has been revealed, which combined with the slaughter could doom Yellowstone’s wild free-roaming bison.

Study links Yellowstone bison fate to genetic flaw

By Laura Zuckerman

SALMON, Idaho | Tue Feb 8, 2011 2:00am GMT

(Reuters) – A congenital defect combined with U.S. government plans to kill bison exposed to an infectious cattle disease could doom America’s last wild herd of pure-bred buffalo at Yellowstone National Park, a genetics expert said in a new study.

The findings were posted on Monday in Nature Precedings, an online archive for pre-publication research by scientists, as the government and environmental groups clashed in court over an icon of Western wildlife that dates to prehistoric times.

Government managers continue to corral hundreds of bison whose search for food has led them to stray from Yellowstone into nearby Montana grazing lands.

Livestock producers fear bison will spread brucellosis, a bacterial infection that can cause domestic cows to miscarry.

A planned slaughter of captive bison that test positive for exposure to brucellosis was placed on hold by the National Park Service last week after conservationists brought a lawsuit challenging the program.

On Monday, the Park Service filed a response reasserting its right to kill as many as 1,600 head of buffalo this year, depending on how the winter progresses.

The agency denied environmentalists’ claims that killing brucellosis-exposed buffalo — 76 are already slated for slaughter — would irreparably damage the herd.

But the study from Thomas Pringle, a biochemist on the genomic team for the University of California at Santa Cruz, faulted the government as overlooking a hereditary weakness in the bison herd that could be amplified by the culling program.

He found that most Yellowstone bison whose DNA were tested carried a genetic mutation that affects cellular metabolism and makes bison lethargic, rendering them less capable of foraging in deep snow, fending off predators and competing for mates.

Pringle, whose work on other genomes has appeared in professional journals such as Science and Nature, said his bison research demonstrates that culling of the wild herd based on brucellosis, rather on the health of their genes, may push the species over the edge into a form of extinction.

“They’re taking a really high risk of killing bison with healthy genes and getting into a situation where they can’t go back; the good DNA will be lost,” said Pringle, whose paper relies on published genetic data, analyses of bison fossils and samples from herds at national parks like Yellowstone.

Pringle said he was motivated to release his findings in advance of scientific peer review because Yellowstone bison can’t afford the months-long wait while his paper is accepted for formal publication. (The study is posted here)

A Yellowstone spokesman said the Park Service was not immediately acquainted with Pringle’s study.

Millions of visitors flock to Yellowstone each year to watch wildlife like bison, whose numbers are estimated at 3,700. The West is home to several conservation bison bands, but Yellowstone’s are prized as the last wild, pure-bred herds, according to the Park Service. Other conservation herds have DNA contaminated with cattle genes from cross-breeding in the late 19th century, a Park Service report shows.

Hunting west of the Mississippi reduced herds that once numbered in the millions to the fewer than 50 that found refuge in Yellowstone in the early 20th century.


Please continue to write to Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer and let him know how you feel about this outrage. Remind him visitors come from all over the world to see wild Yellowstone bison, they don’t want them slaughtered for the  “sacred cow”.   Please  sign the petition on The Buffalo Field Campaign’s website to stop the slaughter of  Yellowstone’s wild free-roaming bison. They are a national treasure. Speak up for them before it’s too late!!


Bison Slaughter A Smoke Screen for Livestock Industry

By George Wuerthner, Unfiltered 2-07-11


Guest opinion: Bison deserve homes on Montana range


Photos: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons and

Posted in: Yellowstone’s Wild Free-Roaming Bison. Biodiversity

Tags: Montana Department of Livestock, bison under the gun, bison genetic flaw

Published in: on February 8, 2011 at 3:49 am  Comments (8)  

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8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Richard Hurry, Nabeki. Nabeki said: Slaughter Plus Genetic Flaw Could Doom Yellowstone's Bison! […]


  2. it is the human race and
    it’s genetic flaws
    that kill and close down
    every door
    it is man and his foul
    DNA that keeps on killing
    and will not go away


    • Thank you Karen for that moving poem!!

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,


  3. A US Court of Appeals ruling in September, 2010 MANDATES Federal agencies must:

    ” 1) consider relevant expert analysis and concerns and provide adequate responses if the agency decides to reject the expert’s conclusion;

    2) when the agency is changing an existing policy or rule, the agency must articulate a rational connection between the facts found and the choices made.”

    If the Thomas Pringle offers his expert analysis and it’s summarily shut down, they must, BY LAW, explain why they ignored it. It’s up to us to make sure they answer to that.


  4. The Federal, State, and Local Officials, the non profit wildlife organizations, the non profit cattle organizations, and every elected official has been contacted about a solution to build immunity in the bison and elk, at Yellowstone, without harassment or capture and to build actual immunity in the cattle herds against brucellosis, and the response has been……NOTHING! So all the rhetoric is just that, put up or shut up, the solution is available!!!!!


    • It’s a big red herring MrKnowItAll….the cattle industry does not want bison competing with cattle, period. That’s what this is all about. The fact the Interior spoke up about it and admitted it, is all we really need to know.

      For the wolves, For the wild ones,




    • Thanks for the link Jerry.



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