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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Friday, November 29, 2013

So will Banff National Park in Canada be the next site of a free ranging 100% purebred Bison population?............. Parks Canada has this goal in mind and wants to make sure it brings best science to the reintroduction of Bison which have been missing from Bannff since the late 1880's.............The Plan calls for 600 to 1,000 bison as the target population starting with a five-year pilot project featuring 30 to 50 bison in the backcountry around the Panther and Dormer rivers on the east-central side of the park.......Lu Carbyn, an adjunct professor at the University of Alberta and retired research scientist for the Canadian Wildlife Service says bison reproduce at a rapid rate, raising questions about whether predators would be able to keep up a balance in the ecosystem........... "It's probably not likely to be the case"......... "Wolves would be the main predator, although grizzlies are a pretty formidable predator as well"...........With Bison known to move 50 kilometers when they share habitat with Wolves, once again the competing pressures from Ranchers who do not want to share their land with Bison come into play as Bison will(as happens in Yellowstone) not stay inside the Park year round.............There is no evidence that Bison cause Brucellosis(Brucellosis, or Bang's Disease, is commonly found in buffalo, elk and domestic cattle...... Cattle, specifically cows, are most susceptible to the disease and its effects however, and are prone to abortions, low milk production and even infertility when infected.............. Spread through contact with reproductive fluids or grass that is wet with such fluids, brucellosis is difficult to detect and even more difficult to prevent through inoculation)............So the Banff Park folks want to do everything possible to reintroduce the Bison while minimizing conflict with surrounding landowners

Bringing bison back to

 Banff 'not easy'

Bringing bison back to Banff ‘not easy’

Bison bull in Yellowstone National Park. 

Photograph by: Photo courtesy Harvey Locke , Handout

Plains bison roamed freely in the area along the
 Eastern Slopes of the Rockies for thousands of
years, until they were nearly wiped out by hunting
 in the mid-1800s. Now, there's only a few small
 herds across the country.
But wild, free-roaming bison could soon return to
 the backcountry in Banff National Park.

The reintroduction — which draws on Parks
Canada's long record of managing bison in national
 parks such as Elk Island, Wood Buffalo and
Grasslands — won't be easy. "It's an ambitious
 and a really exciting project, but it's complicated," 
says superintendent Dave McDonough. "We're
 adding a species that hadn't been here for 126 
years and we want to ensure what we do is 
done properly."

Banff National Park has been working on the
 proposal since 2010, when the park's
management plan called for the reintroduction
 of a breeding herd of plains bison into the front
ranges. Since then, they've been meeting with
 advocacy, tourism, recreational and environment
 groups, businesses, provincial and municipal
 governments, First Nations, bison and cattle
producers, and outfitters.

The proposal has received praise from Bison
 Belong, which has been advocating for the
reintroduction of the species."We believe it's
 a very important species culturally, historically
 and ecologically," says Harvey Locke, a board 
member with the Eleanor Luxton Historical 
But there are also outstanding concerns. 
The issues range from the financial sustainability 
of the project, the risk of bison wandering outside
 of the park's boundaries, the potential for
 transmission of diseases to wildlife and
 domestic animals, and the use of fencing.
The draft plan, released in September,
acknowledges those concerns.
It ultimately calls for 600 to 1,000 bison as
 the target population, but recommends
starting with a five-year pilot project featuring
 30 to 50 bison in the backcountry around
the Panther and Dormer rivers on the east-
central side of the park."You need to start 
these things small," explains Bill Hunt, manager
 of resource conservation with Banff National 
Park. "If we try to go too big too early with this
and fail, we'll never get another chance."

So, they'll begin with young bison in a large
 paddock during the winter and expand in the
spring into a new home range."The risks to 
health and safety, the risks to other users 
and the risks to our neighbours outside the 
park are all much reduced," says Hunt, 
noting fences and natural barriers will be
 used to discourage bison from wandering
 outside the park.

They will put up the fences before the
bison even arrive to see how they hold
up in the winter and whether they allow
other wildlife to pass through.
Fences will either work, or they won't
— and, according to experts, each
possibility presents its own set of concerns.

Lu Carbyn, an adjunct professor at the
University of Alberta and retired research
scientist for the Canadian Wildlife Service,
says bison reproduce at a rapid rate, raising
 questions about whether predators would
 be able to keep up a balance in the
ecosystem. "It's probably not likely to be
 the case," he says. "Wolves would be the
 main predator, although grizzlies are a 
pretty formidable predator as well."

Carbyn says it then becomes a management
 issue for Parks Canada.
"If you get into management, you might get into
 nothing but a glorified game ranch and that's
 really not what national parks are about," he
 says, noting it also becomes costly. "The
beauty of Banff is that it's a wilderness area
and, in wilderness areas, you have a flow of
 animals in and out of the system — not
inhibited by fences."

Furthermore, fences are not a guarantee
 of keeping the bison in the area if wolves
start to prey on the animals."They will," predicts
 Carbyn. "Bison have moved some 50 kilometres
 as a result of wolf predation."

It's precisely the concern of the provincial
government, which has spoken out about
the bison wandering out of the park. An
Alberta Environment and Sustainable
Resource Development spokeswoman,
 Carrie Sancartier, says they continue to
 work with the federal agency to address
those concerns.
Rancher Colin Kure, who is also with the
 Alberta Fish and Game Association, says
 he also doesn't believe the animals will
stay in the park.

"These bison will end up first on the Ya Ha
 Tinda and then it's just an overnight run
down the road into ranching country," he
says, suggesting parks officials won't be
able to handle the large animals. "A lot of
their talk about soft release and soft
hazing, it's a farce."Handling wild bison
 like that is like poking a grizzly bear with 
a stick. You are looking for trouble."

Parks Canada acknowledges the potential
"There's an old joke that you can herd a
 bison anywhere it wants to go," admits
Hunt. "Bison can get through just about
 any fence.
"If they are motivated because they don't
have enough food or resources, they'll go
anywhere they want to go. A key part of
this program is to accept that and
acknowledge that and make sure that
 we have few enough bison and good
enough forage so that they are satisfied
 where they are."
Hunt says they will be using small-scale
 prescribed burns to renew habitats and
ensure there's enough food before adding
 to the herd. All bison will have ear tags
and some will be fitted with GPS collars
 to keep an eye on their movements.

The draft plan, which has already
received more than 100 comments and
 will continue to receive public input until
Nov. 1, suggests the reintroduction is
 important for both education and
ecological restoration."They've been
gone for 130 to 150 years," says Hunt.
 "We've got a lot of time to get it right 
here and get them back on the land.

"There's nothing in this draft plan that
is a done deal," he adds.
Once the public consultation is complete,
 the plan will be revised and turned into
 an action plan. It would also be required
 to go through an environmental
 assessment before the final plan
is approved. No actual timelines
 have been set for the reintroduction.




Working Paper #95-2
By Emily Davies
Department of Sociology
University of Colorado, Boulder
published 1995

This paper was written with a small 
grant from the Conflict Resolution 
 Consortium, University of Colorado. 
Funding for the Consortium and its 
Small Grants Program was provided 
by the William and Flora Hewlett 
Foundation. The statements and ideas
 presented in this paper are those of 
the author and do not necessarily 
represent the views of the Conflict 
Resolution Consortium, the University 
of Colorado, or the William and Flora 
Hewlett Foundation. For more information,
 contact the Conflict Resolution Consortium
, Campus Box 327, University of Colorado,
 Boulder, Colorado 80309-0327. Phone:
 (303) 492-1635, e-mail:

I. Summary Description
Currently, the state of Montana, in
conjunction with the federal government,
 has an interim-management plan that
allows for the killing of Yellowstone buffalo
 that wander outside the boundaries of the
 national park. Established mainly to keep
 brucellosis in check, the practice of killing
 these roaming bison has sparked great
controversy in recent years.

Brucellosis, or Bang's Disease, is
commonly found in buffalo, elk and domestic
 cattle. Cattle, specifically cows, are most
 susceptible to the disease and its effects
 however, and are prone to abortions, low
 milk production and even infertility when
infected. Spread through contact with
reproductive fluids or grass that is wet with
such fluids, brucellosis is difficult to detect
and even more difficult to prevent through
inoculation. This holds particularly true for
the wild, free-roaming Yellowstone bison,
which presently number more than 4,000
within the park -- the last truly wild bison
 found in North America.

 Scarcity of winter range is the only real
check on the Yellowstone buffalo, and thus,
 the animals have begun to wander north of
park boundaries in search of food.

In response to this gradual exodus from the
 park, the federal government and the state
 of Montana allow buffalo that cross park
lines and threaten to mingle with domestic
cattle or damage private property to be shot.
Although there are no documented cases of
 wild bison spreading the disease to cattle,
cattlemen support the shootings as they
seek to preserve Montana's brucellosis-free
status for the sake of their livelihoods and the
 state economy. The National Park Service
endorses the killings as a means to control
 the bison populations without contradicting
 their policy of natural management within
the park. 

II. Conflict History

Brucellosis was first discovered in North
America among Yellowstone buffalo as
early as 1917. Since 1935 it has been
estimated that the federal government
 has spent more than $1.3 billion on the
 disease, presumably on eradication efforts
 and research. While not a new concern,
the problem of brucellosis has recently
been complicated by the vast number of
buffalo within the park. But today's record
 population is in sharp contrast to the
animals' numbers at the turn of the century.

By the end of the 1800s, buffalo
populations were severely depleted in
 the West. Popular among Native
Americans as well as white settlers,
 the animals were widely hunted for
 their meat and skin. From 1896 through
1901 it was reported that bison numbers
 within Yellowstone ranged from a mere
 24 to 50, and still the animals were
 frequently poached. As park
management became more effective
and wildlife preservation laws were
 passed, the bison enjoyed greater
protection and soon began to flourish.
 Their numbers increased so much in
fact, that buffalo were actively managed
 by park rangers to keep populations in
check. Such killing of the animals ceased
 in 1966 however, when park policy changed
 and natural management was introduced
to the national park system. Since then,
bison numbers have soared to more than
 4,000, a number which many critics of
the Park Service contend is beyond
Yellowstone's carrying capacity.

With greater numbers of bison in
Yellowstone comes greater likelihood
 of brucellosis spreading to cattle put
 to pasture near park boundaries.
 Recognizing this threat and wanting
to maintain its newly declared
 brucellosis-free status, the state of
Montana instituted public hunting of
buffalo that wandered across park
boundaries by a strictly regulated
permit system in 1985. This plan
was soon abandoned due to
 massive public outcry however,
 when the 1988-89 hunting season
 saw nearly 600 bison killed. In 1991,
 the present interim-management
plan was established, which calls
for roaming buffalo to be shot by
federal or state government agents.
 More than 300 animals have been
killed this winter alone.

 There are no documented records

of Bison transmitting Brucelliosis
to Cattle

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