Senate Bill 312, sponsored by
Sen. Kenneth Mesaros, (R) SD 25 from Cascade, passed in 1995, which
authorized DOL to take certain actions with respect to wild bison
that enter the state and required FWP to cooperate with DOL in managing
bison from YNP. Montana Code Annotated states:
(1) Whenever a publicly owned wild buffalo or
wild bison from a herd that is infected with a dangerous
disease enters the state of Montana on public or private
land and the disease may spread to persons or livestock
or whenever the presence of wild buffalo or wild
bison may jeopardize Montana's compliance with other state-administered
or federally administered livestock disease control programs,
the department may, under a plan approved by the governor,
use any feasible method in taking one or more of the following actions:
This law was passed when it was assumed, not
scientifically proven, that bison, known to carry the livestock
originating disease brucellosis, were the vectors for brucellosis
transmission - one bovine to another, to domestic cattle. There
has never been a documented case of brucellosis transmission in
the wild, from bison to domestic cattle.
Science Review Workshop Panelists Report 2013."To date,
no documented transmission of brucellosis from Yellowstone bison
to cattle has occurred."
"Frustrated by the agencies' handling of
the issue and believing their interests were not being addressed,
a group of ranchers, conservationists, and hunters in Jackson Hole,
Wyoming, wrote a letter to the Clinton administration in January
1997, in the midst of the crisis. They requested that APHIS stop
threatening to downgrade the state's brucellosis-free status. Ranchers
in Jackson Hole, they noted, had been running cattle next to bison
for more than thirty years with no outbreaks of brucellosis."
- Finding Common Ground, pg. 138, letter being foia'd.
Since the advancement of science, genetics
has shown that wildlife transmission of brucellosis to domestic
cattle has occured from elk, whose genotype is almost identical
to that of domestic cattle (separated by 1-2 mutations. The bison
biovar is separated by about 20 mutations.) - "Our results
indicate that elk and cattle isolates are virtually identical genetically,
differing by only one to two mutational steps. On the contrary,
bison B. abortus differed from cattle and elk by 12-20 mutational
steps."- DNA Genotyping Suggests that Recent Brucellosis Outbreaks
in the Greater Yellowstone Area Originated from Elk, 2009.
North American Model of Wildlife Conservation states "6.
Science is the proper tool to discharge wildlife policy.
Wildlife management appears to be increasingly
politicized. The rapid turnover rate of state agency directors,
the makeup of boards and commissions, the organizational structure
of some agencies, and examples of politics meddling in science have
challenged the science foundation."
"The scientific mandate has been followed
since, reinforced by the writings of Aldo Leopold and embedded within
The Wildlife Society’s code of ethics in that TWS members
'recognize research and scientific management of wildlife and its
environments as primary goals ...' "
Based on the science, MCA 81-2-120 needs
to be repealed, full jurisdiction of YNP bison entering
Montana needs to be in the hands of the wildlife agency Fish, Wildlife
& Parks, to be managed as wildlife.