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Bison quarantine approved as means to develop new herds

Carie Birkmeier

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EBS STAFF

On May 14, the National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director, Sue Masica, signed the Finding of No Significant Impact for an environmental assessment that was released to consider the use of quarantine with brucellosis-free Yellowstone bison as a means to develop bison herds in other parts of the state.

With this approval, the NPS now has the authority to implement a quarantine program to test and certify groups of bison are free of brucellosis, a highly contagious disease that can cause abortion in elk, bison and cattle.

Once a selection of bison has been captured and tested negative for brucellosis, they will be held in fenced pastures and receive further testing for the disease. If they continue to be brucellosis-free, the bison could be released to augment or establish new herds of plains bison.

“Quarantine is a positive step forward for bison conservation,” said Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk in a statement sent by Yellowstone National Park. “The NPS will continue to work closely with tribes, the state of Montana, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and other stakeholders to implement this program.”

In 2014, the NPS conducted a 45-day public scoping period for the environmental assessment, which included public meetings in Gardiner and Bozeman. Following the scoping period, the NPS developed the environmental assessment and released it for a 45-day public comment and review session on Jan. 13, 2016.

After completion of the commentary period, the NPS reviewed public responses and worked with state, federal and tribal partners to develop the final document that was recently approved.

To view the corresponding documents related to the NPS decision on bison quarantine, visit parkplanning.nps.gov/bisonquarantine.

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