The Yellowstone landscape is vast and diverse. The population of bison that live on this landscape has developed many different survival strategies. Summer at the National Park is paradise for these animals but when the temperatures drop, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to get around the landscape.
When the Yellowstone bison migrate to the lower elevations, they create a great deal of controversy because some of them end up in the state of Montana. In 2000 the state and federal agencies signed an agreement called the Interagency Bison Management Plan. This plan gives the Montana Department of Livestock the authority to haze and slaughter bison that leave the Yellowstone National Park and enter Montana. What this means is that there’s only a line that divides the place where bison are respected and admired with the place where they’re treated like vermin.
Hazing is when the bison are chased back into the park with the use of snowmobiles, horses or helicopters. And slaughter is when agents literally shoot and kill the bison or round them up and send them off to slaughterhouses.
All of this is done in the name of protecting cattle from brucellosis; a disease that is right now only affecting bison and elk in North America. This means that there’s a lot of persistence in limiting the disease to the Yellowstone Park ecosystem in order to maintain Montana cattle free from this disease.
If the bison are allowed to roam freely, cattle ranchers run the risk of getting all their animals infected because it only takes one bison to infect an entire herd. The economical impact of this is overwhelming. Not only is quarantine mandatory for the animals that come in contact with the bison, but there is rigorous testing of all animals six months and older. This can easily put ranchers out of business.
Buffalo Field Campaign is a conservation organization that’s dedicated to protecting the Yellowstone bison and their migration into Montana. The primary goal of this organization is to allow the bison to have a winter habitat wherever they need to have it. According to the members of this organization it has never been proven that the bison are actually responsible for infecting cattle with brucellosis. Draw your own conclusions as you want this film now.