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Scientists Work On Updating Brucellosis Recommendations For Greater Yellowstone


A panel of prominent scientists are meeting in Bozeman to talk about controlling brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone area, It’s the start of a year-long process to evaluate options for trying to control the disease.

The panel is being convened to advise the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

P. Ryan Clark, a veterinarian with that agency, says there are a lot of people and interest groups who care a lot about how Yellowstone’s wildlife are managed.

"And even though their conception of how wildlife should be controlled and managed may have a foundation on Walt Disney, or on reality, for them it’s very real," says Clark.

The panel’s task is to update a 1998 report by the National Academies of Sciences on the disease in and around Yellowstone. Brucellosis is carried by elk, bison and domestic cattle, and can cause animals to abort their fetuses. Concern about its spread is the primary driver behind the slaughter of thousands of Yellowstone bison that have wandered outside the park’s boundaries in recent years.

Clarke says there have been numerous brucellosis studies by multiple state and federal agencies and universities since the 1998 report, and that information needs to be synthesized into new recommendations. That’s what National Academies of Science panel meeting Tuesday and Wednesday in Bozeman is tasked with doing. The independent, non-governmental group’s recommendations are expected to be ready in the spring of 2016.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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