Ranchers fear the park’s bison carry brucellosis, a disease that causes stillborn calves. For years now, when bison go outside in the park in search of winter forage, they’ve been slaughtered to prevent the spread of the disease.
But some bison, after being declared disease-free, were spared. They’re the ones in the holding pens, and the idea is to use them to repopulate public and tribal lands across the West with free-roaming bison, writes the AP’s Matthew Brown, here.
However, those animals apparently will be relocated to a Montana ranch owned by billionaire Ted Turner, under a recommendation made by state and federal officials.
Turner already owns about 50,000 bison, and his restaurant chain Ted’s Montana Grill serves buffalo burgers. But Turner Enterprises general manager Russell Miller says the Yellowstone bison won’t be served up on a bun, and that the genetically pure Yellowstone bison will be kept separate from the others on his ranch.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks administrator Ken McDonald tells Brown that giving up bison to Turner’s ranch was not his preferred choice, and that his agency already is getting “a lot of backlash over the whole privatization thing.”
The tribes’ applications were judged insufficient, but officials say they’ll be given first choice the next time bison are available.