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Yellowstone Bison Plan: Kill the Infected Ones

January 5, 1995

HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ The bison herd at Yellowstone National Park could be cut by almost half by a proposed plan requiring those infected with brucellosis be shot when they leave the park.

The plan would require trapping and testing all bison roaming outside Yellowstone. Those with the disease would be killed and those without returned to the park.

Dozens of bison already have been shot this winter as they left the park without being tested for the disease, which causes cows to abort their calves.

The plan is the first attempt at a long-term program for dealing with the park’s ballooning bison population of about 4,300. As the numbers have increased, more bison wander from the sanctuary in search of winter forage.

Ranchers fear the animals will spread brucellosis to their cattle. The disease is known as undulent fever in humans.

A draft environmental impact statement estimated that the park herd could be trimmed by up to 2,000 animals.

The document was prepared by the National Park Service, Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection, along with the state departments of Livestock and Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

It was distributed this week for review by those agencies. The Associated Press obtained a copy Wednesday from the state Environmental Quality Council. A public draft of the plan is not expected for another four to six months.

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