Brucellosis Lunacy Spreads to Yellowstone Superintendent Lewis

by jhwygirl

Saying brucellosis “does not belong in our future,” Suzanne Lewis, the superintendent of Yellow-stone National Park, pledged Monday to work with Montana’s Board of Livestock to eradicate the disease.

That, from today’s Billings Gazette.

…eradicate the disease”? From Yellowstone?

While the Bridger-Teton National Forest, to the south, is approving new leases on Wyoming state elk feedgrounds?

While the National Elk Refuge continue to feed elk?

That’s just plain lunacy speaking, Ms. Lewis. I simply can’t see it any other way. Maybe someone can please – please tell me why I’m wrong to think that.

It’s time for the NPS and Montana and the livestock industry to put pressure on Wyoming (and the USFS and the National Elk Refuge – a branch of the USFWS) to stop feeding wildlife, for Christ’s sake.

Until then, you’ll be pissin’ $$$$$$ into thin air doing anything else – including rounding up elk and bison to slaughter.

I had to add a new category because of this one: Common Sense.


  1. JC

    Let’s hope the word “eradicate” isn’t a code word for “depopulate.”

    There’s only two ways to eradicate brucellosis: 1) depopulate every herd that contains it; or 2) find a cure.

    Beings as we don’t have a cure, and vaccinations are only partially effective and don’t meet criteria for eradication, if Lewis believes in the absolutist nature of “eradicate,” then I can only conclude that she is softening up to depopulation.

    People need to remember that the quarantine facility on the north side of Yellowstone is an experiment to see if they can remove enough bison from the Park to sustain a new herd. Then the existing buffalo in the Park can be depopulated. Then after a period of time, the quarantined herd can be reintroduced.

    I’d look for a revision of the Bison Management Plan to contain some version of this strategy in its range of alternatives.

    How the Park may manage elk given such a scenario remains to be seen. But many people say that without bison, that elk would lose their reservoir of brucella. Jhywgrl rightly points to the issue of feed grounds as an adequate mechanism to maintain brucellosis in elk.

    Given that the FWP has already approved a doubling of elk tags north of the Park, maybe a depop strategy for elk would follow one for bison. How crazy.

  2. Think of the harm done to the genetics of bison in this past winter’s slaughter, JC – and then think about the harm to continue to the last free-roaming herd and the harm to come to elk should we start a depopulation program without addressing the real problem. Wyoming.

    Politics are stopping science from showing these people the steps that are out there after they make these (poor) choices.

    Wyoming, ultimately, is content to vaccinate. Montana seems vehemently against it. The vaccine isn’t foolproof (exhibit this last find). Someone needs to find funding to find a better vaccine.

    And maybe that should be Wyoming. They’ve run huge surpluses down there – given that they want to feed, pressure should be put on them to heavily fund a solution.

  3. JC

    I’m well aware of the genetic issues surrounding the Yellowstone herd. I wasn’t suggesting that I support depopulation–quite the opposite. I just know there is an undercurrent of support for the strategy, and Lewis seems to be moving towards it.

    Vaccination will never = eradication. Couple vaccination with advances in a curative, and good management, then maybe we could get a handle on it.

    What is happening today is exactly what many of us said would happen 10 years ago if the parties to the BMP didn’t go the risk management route. Zero tolerance management is an all or nothing gamble, with the worst case scenario having just come true: loss of class-free status.

    Depopulation is the inevitable outcome of a zero tolerance management scheme, while we suggested split-state status as one pillar of risk management.

    I guess I should cop to the fact that I was one of the people who worked on and promoted Plan B in the 90’s, if that means anything to anybody. This might be of some interest, though it is a 10 year-old summary of Plan-B, and comparison with another plan. I have a ton more of this stuff left over from my days at x, y, & z…

  4. Rimrock

    The recent headlines resulting from the Board of Livestock meeting make me wonder even more about the Main Stream Media, as they don’t really jibe with first-hand impressions.
    I was in sunshine/make hay mode, but the majority of the rest of the Gallatin Wildlife Association board attended. They were prepared to go ballistic on Suzanne, as in our opinion she is somewhere beyond grossly negligent in not only allowing but facilitating last winter’s bison slaughter. So our board was pleasantly surprised and said her presentation was “the highlight” of the affair, and she basically told the BOL that elk slaughter ain’t gonna happen. Forget about it. But hey, we’ll vaccinate the buffalo. They’re easier to catch.
    But then the next day FWP’s Neil Anderson says if they’ll get him the money, he’ll capture up to 352 (?) elk. Of course his predecessor Keith Aune told the Stockgrowers last summer if they gave him the money he’d capture the bison, slaughter the positives, neuter the negatives, vaccinate and who knows, might as well brand and dehorn while you’re at it!

    JC, you must know Keith if you’ve been involved that long. Clearly he was key in the quarantine development, and yes, I think you’re absolutely right about their plans to repopulate Yellowstone with survivors of the gulag. Unfortunately, I believe they sold the Governor on this lunacy in the early days of his administration, doing none of us any favors in the process.

    Maybe they’re bluffing, because they know the cowboys can’t/won’t fund this “work”. I’ve been involved with this issue for quite a while too, though, and unfortunately have zero confidence in FWP betting that hand. No, if the money’s there, they’ll do it. They’ll create a vast new market for elk squeeze chutes. Maybe create a whole new springtime tradition; elk brandings!

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