…No Bison Have Been Seen in the Area for Two Years

by jhwygirl

Art Burns, owner of the cow which recently tested positive for brucellosis told the Bozeman Chronicle that his cattle had never been near any bison, though elk are frequently in the area.

Burns runs a small operation – about 50 head of Corriente cattle – out there in the middle of heaven, near Pray. He’s been doing increased monitoring and testing since last year.

Even more discouraging, livestock officials say Burns had taken all the appropriate steps to guard against a transmission by vaccinating and testing his cows frequently for disease. Burns had vaccinated his cattle twice and had a “whole-herd” testing plan.

According to officials, tests are being run on the diseased heifer to determine if the cow got the disease from other cattle, elk or bison. In last year’s case, tests found that while the source was not other cattle, there was inconclusive evidence as to whether it came from bison or elk. The owner of that herd said that if his cattle tested positive for brucellosis, elk from Yellowstone National Park had probably spread the disease.

Meanwhile, debate continues between the Montana Cattlemen’s Association and the Montana Stockgrowers Association over the Governor’s split-state proposal, which would require vaccination and more intense testing for cattle around Yellowstone National Park.

Christian Mackay, executive officer for the Montana Board of Livestock said that those plans won’t be discussed until the Board of Livestock meets again in late July.

Common sense must prevail – hopefully the Board of Livestock will act to take steps towards moving to a split-state status. It’s unfair to to ranchers in all other parts of the state. Get the politics out of this issue and let the interests of all cattle ranchers and the state’s livestock industry prevail.


  1. goof houlihan

    The loss of the brucellosis free status will cost the cattle ranchers six million dollars this year, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

  2. Binky Griptight

    Shooting, or vaccinating, all the elk would surely cost more than six million dollars a year.

  3. JC

    There’s some speculation that the cattle brought the brucellosis into the state from Texas:

    “The cattle herd infected in May 2007 was also pastured near Emigrant… The Montana Dept of Livestock and the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have not produced any evidence linking Yellowstone wildlife–or clearing domestic or imported cattle–as the source of last year’s infection.

    Both the Malcolm and Burns herds were comprised of Corriente cattle, a Mexican breed popular in rodeo roping events often imported from Texas, a state that only very recently regained its brucellosis-free status. European cattle originally infected Yellowstone wildlife with brucellosis.

    The fact that both the 2007 and the current brucellosis detections have occurred in Corriente cattle, a breed closely associated with brucellosis, has many questioning whether cattle, and not Yellowstone wildlife, are responsible for the transmissions resulting in Montana losing its brucellosis free status.

    According to Robert Hoskins, an independent Wyoming conservationist, “There is no scientific proof that elk were the cause of last year’s brucellosis outbreak and good circumstantial evidence that the cause was imported Corriente cattle. A year after that incident, we still have no published epidemiological report from APHIS. Is that not suspicious?”

    In fact, APHIS failed to secure biological samples from 6 of the 7 cows of the Malcolm herd identified as seropositive for brucellosis, because of a ‘concern’ for the private property rights of the slaughterhouse owner. As a result, the agency never got adequate scientific information upon which to base any claim of causation, either for cattle, elk, or bison” –BFC press release

    And where shall we point the finger today?

  4. jhwygirl

    The findings in the May 2007 found that while they couldn’t isolate it to elk or bison, it was not cattle.

    Pretty sure about that – I even think one of the stories I’ve linked to in these multiple posts on bison and brucellosis noted that factoid.

    Binky? Vaccinate all the elk and bison that you want – until Wyoming (and the feds, too!) quit feed grounds, we’re going to have brucellosis, irregardless of whatever eradication methods are attempted. Those feedgrounds breed that stuff, and the elk then head back up into the high country in the spring to calf.

    More pressure should be put upon both Wyoming and the feds to quit that nonsense. From Montana, from both of the state’s cattle associations, and from the USDA.

    We’re ranching tourists down there over the interests of cattle. Great, isn’t it? How the west was won – in a soccer mom’s van!

  1. 1 DOL Conference Call to Update Brucellosis Situation « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] There’s also been some developments in the brucellosis world since my last post on the subject: […]




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