Shooting Up

Yellowstone Park’s brucellosis-infected bison have been in the Montana Department of Livestock crosshairs for years, but the newest round of shots might prove less fatal. September 22, 2010 marks the end of the public comment period regarding Yellowstone’s proposal to vaccinate bison herds for brucellosis remotely, by shooting the vaccine through air rifles. Brucellosis is a contagious disease that causes mothers to abort calves; the potential infection of domestic cattle makes this one of the most heated and controversial issues in the state. In the 2000 Interagency Bison Management Plan, the Park agreed to test this kind of vaccination when the means became available, and 10 years later the Park believes it's at that point. However, Mark Pearson at the Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) says his group is opposed to the vaccination method. “It's a pretty ineffective vaccine that will never totally eliminate brucellosis from the herd,” he explains. GYC believes the money would be better spent on cattle removal in areas where the two species coexist. The Park is not expected to make a final decision until 2011.