Park Halts Proposed Vaccine Bullet Program for Bison - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Park Halts Proposed Vaccine Bullet Program for Bison

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BOZEMAN -

Yellowstone National Park decided not to move forward with a new way of vaccinating bison who roam outside the Park's boundaries for brucellosis-- a disease that causes pregnant cattle, elk and bison to prematurely abort their calves.

The plan was to make the brucellosis vaccine a projectile, using an air gun to shoot it into the animals as they roam.

YNP Spokesman Al Nash says the proposal was dismissed after an environmental impact statement weighed the uncertainties over the vaccine's effectiveness, the delivery, and the cost it could have posed to taxpayers.

"We believe that we could spend about $9 million over a 30-year period and would have very little impact of brucellosis of bison," Nash said.

"It really wouldn't change our efforts to approve conservation of wildlife."

However, the Park will continue its current efforts to prevent the spread of brucellosis, which many bison and elk in the 28,000-square mile Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have been exposed to.

"We don't round up bison specifically to vaccinate them, but if we are in a situation where we have captured and our holding some bison, in the past we have vaccinated some of those with this RB52 vaccine and we'll do so in the future," Nash said, adding the preferred method of vaccination is by hand using a syringe."

Wild bison advocacy groups, such as the Buffalo Field Campaign, applauded the Park's decision.

"We think this is the right decision. We are very happy to hear that we will not be remotely vaccinating," said BFC Member Stephanie Seay.

But it's not just the remote vaccination program the Buffalo Field Campaign has a problem with.

"We don't agree with vaccinated wildlife, in particular bison, and this vaccine that they want to use, RB51, is a livestock vaccine that has not been approved in wild bison and it's an ineffective vaccine," Seay said.

"It's an extra added harm to them whether you're trying to shoot them or the remote vile bullet."

The Environmental Impact Statement was prepared as part of a court settlement in 2000 between the federal government and the State of Montana over how migrating bison are handled.

Yellowstone must still present its final recommendation to the National Park Service, which will issue a final decision in late winter or early spring.

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