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2014-07-30. U.S. advances plan to reintroduce wild bison herds outside Yellowstone.

posted Aug 1, 2014, 3:32 PM by Alan Gould
For GSS Losing Biodiversity chapter 2. Excerpt: New herds of genetically pure wild bison may once again roam vast expanses of the American West where the iconic animal has been absent since the end of the 19th century, under a tentative plan federal officials advanced on Wednesday. The proposal, for which Yellowstone National Park officials have begun seeking public comment, is almost sure to draw staunch opposition from ranchers concerned about disease, competition for grass and property destruction from straying bison. Yellowstone is now home to more than 4,000 bison, or buffalo, constituting the bulk of the country's last pure-bred population of the animals. Dozens from the Yellowstone herd have been relocated to two Montana American Indian reservations in recent years. ...A recent U.S. Interior Department report on bison concluded they could potentially be reintroduced to swaths of public lands it manages in states such as Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Nebraska and South Dakota, without posing a risk to livestock. The chief concern is brucellosis, an infection that causes stillbirths in cows and may have been transmitted to roughly half the bison in Yellowstone from exposure to cattle. Park wildlife managers are eyeing a plan that would start by quarantining dozens of bison for several years to prevent them from contracting the disease. Those animals shown to be free of brucellosis could then be considered for relocation to establish controlled herds elsewhere, said David Hallac, chief of Yellowstone's science and research branch. ...Millions of the powerful, hump-shouldered animals once roamed the plains west of the Mississippi until systematic hunting drove their numbers to the fewer than 50 that found refuge in Yellowstone in the early 20th century.... http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/31/us-usa-bison-yellowstone-idUSKBN0G001E20140731. By Laura Zuckerman, Reuters.