Yellowstone National Park plans to use a temporary bison quarantine facility in the upcoming winter/spring for 54 animals it kept separate from the rest of the herd.
Park Supervisor Dan Wenk said last spring the herd was 5,500 strong but the bison management plan required it be whittled down to 3,800.
“Because we have a large population that necessitated we removed over 1,200 animals last year,” Wenk said. “That is not, unfortunately, unusual.”
Wenk said the bison have tested negative numerous times for brucellosis and the hope is to transfer them into the care of tribes interested in managing wild bison herds on reservation lands.
“You know, the bison is a very, very important part of their culture,” Wenk said. “And so I think that opportunity is something that certainly the Fort Peck tribes have stepped forward and said they want to be part of the solution. Other tribes have also expressed an interested over the long term in receiving Yellowstone bison.”
He said brucellosis causes livestock to prematurely abort their young, although there have been no examples of bison spreading the disease to livestock. Wenk said quarantining and transferring bison to other public and tribal lands would help reduce the number of bison killed.
The park is still deciding whether to build the temporary quarantine or use an existing facility. Wenk said it’s not clear if or when a permanent quarantine could be built in the future.