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They Don't Get it

Written by Dennis Sun
       This past week a news story came out via the Associated Press addressing the bison in Yellowstone Park and the odds of brucellosis transmission to cattle. I know that most of the story has greater impact for Montana, but it proves just how arrogant the public has become as it relates to agriculture. It also goes to show how some take agriculture for granted.
    The study was done by an assistant professor from the University of California at Santa Cruz and was funded by the Wilburforce Foundation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The study was co-authored by someone from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and another person from the Consortium for Conservation Medicine. That group is a new one on me, but I’ll bet all three of the authors like bison way more than cattle. I’m also betting they all eat a lot of broccoli.
    The study was run on computer models that indicate the bison population growth over time leads to a higher probability of disease transmission. That is some smart computer, isn’t it? But anyway, the study went on to say that the risk remains low even as bison numbers rise because there are fewer than 1,000 cattle in the area where bison migrate in the summer. They say around 300 cattle winter in the area where buffalo are present. So the smart way to solve the problem of transmission of brucellosis to the cows, as far as they are concerned, is to buy out the grazing rights in that area.
    I always thought that one of best reasons to cull the bison, besides getting rid of the brucellosis infected ones, was to keep the numbers down so there is enough forage for them to winter in Yellowstone. It sounds like someone wants to expand the boundary of Yellowstone. Remember, the further one gets away from Yellowstone, the more cattle there are. Bison are not a dumb animal and they may like it better north of Yellowstone than in the park, especially with all of the recent earthquakes.
    As we realize brucellosis in wildlife and bison can most likely be eradicated with the proper vaccine, we just have to make up our minds and spend the dollars to accomplish it. Eliminating cattle around the Greater Yellowstone Area is not the answer, for the world may need the protein source for food some day.
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    We hope you enjoy reading the Winter Cattlemen’s Special Edition. We had a good time interviewing people and finding ads in Weston County. As with other parts of Wyoming, the pretty country is being bought up by recreationists. Luckily it’s not happening quite as rapidly as it is in some other areas. We found it to be a conservative county where a dollar is worth 100 pennies and that is how the ranch was paid for. We all could learn a lesson from these great people. Hard work is a way of life and new equipment is a state of mind.
    There is a Yiddish proverb that says, “With money in your pocket, you are wise and you are handsome and you sing well too.” Weston County’s ranches, as indicated by multiple stories in the Winter Cattlemen’s Edition, were built on hard work and frugality.
Dennis