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Bison ready for new pastures?
Date:2/27/2014

e that under the right conditions, there is an opportunity to produce live brucellosis-free bison from even a herd with a large number of infected animals like the one in Yellowstone National Park," said Dr. Jack Rhyan, APHIS Veterinary Officer. "Additionally, this study was a great example of the benefits to be gained from several agencies pooling resources and expertise to research the critical issue of brucellosis in wildlife."

The authors of the study note that agencies charged with the management of bison agree that capture and relocation of bison to other suitable habitats would be an appropriate alternative to the lethal removal of bison that exceed population objectives for Yellowstone National Park, as defined by the IMBP. The UM &R protocol could facilitate such relocation by demonstrating animals are disease-free and would not transmit brucellosis to cattle or other animals.

At the same time, a movement to ecologically restore bison to large landscapes is gaining momentum throughout the United States and Canada, and brucellosis-free bison may be needed to seed those landscapes. In particular, the genetics of Yellowstone bison are important because they are known to be free of cattle genes and represent bison that existed on the Great Plains for thousands of years.

WCS Bison Project Coordinator Keith Aune said, "This study represents an important milestone in bison conservation and these research findings enable us to practice genetic rescue from brucellosis infected bison herds. The Yellowstone animals passing through this system of testing are critical to conserving the diversity of the bison genome over the long term. We've also learned a great deal about brucellosis blood testing and how to better interpret results when screening animals for this disease. It is our hope that several satellite herds of Yellowstone bison can be assembled from the animals that graduate through this quarantine process."


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Contact: Scott Smith
ssmith@wcs.org
718-220-3698
Wildlife Conservation Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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