BOZEMAN (AP) – Yellowstone National Park has decided to convert part of its bison capture facility into a temporary brucellosis quarantine facility after livestock and animal health officials resisted efforts to ship potentially disease-carrying bison across Montana to be quarantined.
Park Superintendent Dan Wenk said Thursday the park would bring a portion of the space up to federal and state standards to open a facility where animals could be certified as free of brucellosis, a disease that causes animals to abort calves, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.
The decision comes after months of discussion with state and federal livestock officials after a group of bison that park officials wanted to quarantine at the Fort Peck Indian Reservation could not be moved in February because of a political dispute.
Montana livestock officials and federal animal health agents opposed transferring bison to the quarantine site because the animals had not yet been certified free of brucellosis. Bison are quarantined from 2 1/2 to 4 years and must test negative for exposure to brucellosis several times before they can be certified to be free from the disease.
Park officials expect to finish converting a portion of the bison corrals and sorting area into a quarantine facility in the fall.
Park biologist PJ White said the biggest change will be lining two pens with an extra layer of fencing to ensure quarantined bison do not come into contact with other bison or elk, which also carry the disease. They are also looking for a more reliable water source for the bison.
Officials still hope to find a long-term space where the bison can be quarantined outside the park, Wenk said.
Bison that wander out of Yellowstone National Park in the winter in search of food can be captured, tested for exposure to brucellosis and quarantined if they initially test negative under a management plan meant to limit the bison population in the park and prevent the spread of brucellosis to cattle that graze nearby.
No cases of bison spreading brucellosis to domestic cattle have been documented in the wild.
Bison that test positive for the disease are slaughtered.
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