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June 27, 2013

Bison Causing a Ruckus

For more information on Newsline, contact: Kari Barbic, Media Specialist, American Farm Bureau Federation, karib@fb.org.

Powerful, majestic bison remain a treasured symbol of the Old West. But today, free-roaming bison outside the confines of Yellowstone National Park, which spans parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, are creating a public safety problem and endangering the health of domestic livestock. Rancher Druska Kinkie is located in Montana’s scenic Paradise Valley and talks about the situation in this report with AFBF’s Cyndie Sirekis.
Sirekis:About 60 percent of the bison herd located in Yellowstone National Park is infected with brucellosis, a serious viral disease that easily spreads to cattle, causing pregnant “momma cows” to abort their calves. The federal government and state agencies are responsible for managing the health of the bison herd as well as its movement in and out of the park. Montana rancher Druska Kinkie explains why the bison issue is a big deal for ranchers as well as the general public in the western part of the nation.
Kinkie:The fact that brucellosis is a livestock disease as well as a wildlife disease has created many, many problems for livestock producers in the greater Yellowstone area. There is very little control placed on diseased bison or diseased elk. A lot of the responsibility for mitigation is put on the livestock producer so you change the way you manage and you try to create spatial separation. So it’s a worry that’s constantly there.
Sirekis:An Adaptive Management Area or A-M-A outside of Yellowstone National Park was recently created for the bison, allowing them access to an additional 75,000 acres in late winter and early spring. Bison are now allowed on both sides of the Yellowstone River near the park and the northern boundary where they can roam has been extended. This new area for the bison was created without significant input from farmers and ranchers.
Kinkie:With the Adaptive Management Area change that was imposed in 2011 through 2012, livestock producers did not feel that they had the public comment that they needed. There were not times created where livestock producers could actually sit with these different partners or agencies and question them and have that questioning and the answers recorded.
Sirekis:Kinkie says free-roaming bison are not what anyone would call “cute and cuddly.”
Kinkie:It creates a huge public safety issue they’re on the main highway, right on the shoulder. Then you have a lot of private property damage, fences, your other livestock can be injured. There is no way to effectively fence bison out of your property so it’s a cost a damage that you have to absorb. If bison are in your driveway and your kid gets let out at the top of the driveway then they can’t get home and so you have to find somebody to come and move those bison so the kid can walk down the driveway. Major issues for a lot of the public.
Sirekis:Cyndie Sirekis, Washington.
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