Don't forget Brucellosis

Don't forget Brucellosis

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The editorials in the Ravalli Republic, January 12 and 19, 2020, about the EIS report by the FWP, are all informative; "Careful balance needed for bison" by Martha Williams, Director FWP, "Free-roaming bison EIS draws battle lines in Mt" by Chuck Denowh, and FWP based bison decision on science" by Michael Hoyt.

Michael Hoyt wrote "Mr. Denowh claims that FWP's finding will force free-roaming bison onto private property." That is not what Mr. Donowh said, as he wrote "Fortunately, FWP lacks the legal authority to unilaterally force free-roaming bison to be introduced anywhere in Montana"....Michael Hoyt suggested fencing out the bison. Really! The people living along Eastside Highway North of Stevensville can tell you that their fences do not keep out "free-roaming" buffalo.

Actually what I find totally missing is any writing about Brucellosis, "The contagious, costly disease of ruminant animals that also affects humans." From USDA web site, "Facts about Brucellosis." Brucellosis (undulant fever) can be eliminated by vaccine. Banks was the veterinarian who discovered the vaccine in the late 1800s. "Studies have shown that, if Brucellosis eradication program efforts were stopped, the costs of producing beef and milk would increase by an estimated $80 million in less than 10 years." Eradication is done by vaccinating calves, testing cattle and domestic bison for infection.

The buffalo of Yellowstone can not be vaccinated because they are classified as "wildlife." So what is evident to us citizens of Montana is that the 1954 cooperative state-federal Brucellosis eradication program to eliminate the disease from the country will be made helplessly ineffective by "wildlife" classification of buffalo that the APR (American Prairie Reserve) is actively pursuing for their "free-roaming" buffalo. And the APR has not said they will give access to the BLM land enclosed by their prairie reserve.

The FWP has elaborate plans laid out to contain diseases, fences, etc. It will take a whole new branch of government to implement what they propose. You can read the whole FWP EIS statement at fwp.mt.gov., and how you can respond to their proposals.

I do have to agree with Chuck Denowh that the FWP and the APR do have the same goals. You can read more about the APR in the Fall 2019 Range magazine, "Buffalo special report; cowboys or buffalo — critical mass."

If you love Big Sky Montana, you need to keep yourself posted on current happenings in and around Montana. This is not about who is right, who is wrong. It is about using common sense and protecting the good people of Montana.

— Susan McCreary, Stevensville

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