Bison approved for brucellosis vaccination

Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Feb 14, 2005
by WLJ
Vaccination of Yellowstone bison calves and yearlings that enter Montana could begin this season, according to a recent decision by the Montana Department of Livestock. Brucella abortus strain RB51 vaccine will be used by hand injection.
Calves (4-12 months of age) and yearlings (12-24 months of age) captured as a result of other management actions in the western boundary area that test negative for brucellosis are eligible for the vaccine, according to Montana State Veterinarian Dr. Tom Linfield.
The Department of Livestock received 66 individual comments and 10 comments on behalf of organizations regarding the Environmental Assessment on vaccination of Bison in the Western Boundary Area. Public meetings were also held in December in Helena and Bozeman.
The decision is consistent with the adaptive management steps as described in the Interagency Bison Management Plan that was approved through a mediated settlement agreement by state and federal agencies in 2000. Agencies implementing the IBMP include the National Park Service, Forest Service and USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Montana Department of Livestock and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
The IBMP was developed to preserve a wild, viable population of Yellowstone bison, reduce the risk of transmission of brucellosis from bison to cattle, maintain Montana’s brucellosis-free status and protect private property.
The IBMP anticipated that vaccination of bison would be incorporated as a strategy to reduce the prevalence of brucellosis within the bison herd and to reduce the risk of transmission from bison to cattle. Within the adaptive management framework, the plan specified that vaccination would be implemented incrementally.
Last season, the National Park Service vaccinated bison at Yellowstone National Park’s Stephens Creek facility on the northern boundary of the park.
Capture operations will continue as defined by the IBMP. The Department of Livestock does not propose additional capture operations specifically to increase the number of bison vaccinations.
During each of the last two seasons about 1,500 bison were moved back into Yellowstone National Park from the western boundary area. A total of 40 bison were captured from the western boundary area in the last two seasons with 24 testing positive and transported to slaughter facilities and 16 testing negative and released.
So far this season, three bull bison have been captured on the western boundary and transported to slaughter facilities and 132 bison have been moved back into YNP.
The Environmental Assessment, the Decision Notice and response to public comment are available on the department website at www.liv.state.mt.us. — WLJ
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