Authorities at Yellowstone National Park are moving to turn part of its bison trap into a brucellosis quarantine facility.
Park officials have been in talks with the US Department of Agriculture and state livestock authorities on converting the Stephens Creek Facility on the northern edge of the park, US News reports. They have also been discussing testing requirements needed to declare bison as brucellosis-free.
These steps are meant to move the 24 male bison at the trap to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation without having to shift them over to quarantine at Corwin Springs. Male bison are required to be quarantined for one year before being certified free of the disease.
Brucellosis is worrisome to those in the livestock industry, as it causes cattle to abort their babies.
Dan Wenk, supervisor for Yellowstone, said that sending the bison to Corwin Springs would be more costly compared to quarantining them at Stephen Creek, even with the upgrades completed. He said,
I don’t think the cost is going to be that high. We feel like we’re in a better place in terms of doing the research we want to do on these animals.
The park is waiting for the Montana Department of Livestock and the agriculture department to give them the requirements, before work can begin on the facility. Marty Zaluski, state veterinarian for Montana, said he is working to finalize the rules.
Over half of the bison in Yellowstone are suspected to have the disease. There have been no documented cases of bison actually transmitting brucellosis to cattle in the wild, but public fear has forced authorities to control the population in Yellowstone and limit where the bison are.
The park has a 17-year management plan in place to manage the bison population, reduce the number slaughtered yearly, and establish more herds around the country – something that quarantining helps with.