RE: Brucellosis Management in Wyoming Common Ground Letter
January 31, 1997
Jackson Hole ranchers, sportsmen and conservationists

 

"Frustrated by the agencies' handling of the issue and believing their interests were not being addressed, a group of ranchers, conservationists, and hunters in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, wrote a letter to the Clinton administration in January 1997, in the midst of the crisis. They requested that APHIS stop threatening to downgrade the state's brucellosis-free status. Ranchers in Jackson Hole, they noted, had been running cattle next to bison for more than thirty years with no outbreaks of brucellosis...The most direct response by APHIS was to force Wyoming ranchers to submit to a station review of their brucellosis-control measures. The review involved thousands of dollars in brucellosis-testing costs for Wyoming ranchers. In February 1997, however, APHIS did respond positively to pressure from other federal agencies and the federal family meetings. It acknowledged that a state's brucellosis-free status cannot be revoked unless there is an uncontrolled outbreak of brucellosis. In other words, the mere presence of bison with brucellosis was no longer adequate grounds for APHIS to threaten or penalize a state's livestock producers. Nevertheless, Montana officials continue to haze, shoot, or capture and slaughter virtually all bison crossing into Montana." Finding Common Ground, pg. 138.

RE: Brucellosis Management in Wyoming Common Ground Letter PDF

President Bill Clinton
Mr. Dan Glickman, Secretary of Agriculture
Mr. Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of Interior
Mr. Jim Geringer, Governor of Wyoming

RE: Brucellosis Management in Wyoming Letter
Date: January, 31, 1997

Dear President Clinton, Secretaries Glickman, Babbit and Governor Geringer,

We appreciate this opportunity to express our mutual concerns for the direction brucellosis management is taking in the State of Wyoming. Over the years, the agriculture and conservation communities of Wyoming have worked to protect our open space while sustaining a robust ranching economy and maintaining viable wildlife populations on the land we all respect. We are joining forces now to demonstrate our continued commitment to these values and to urge you to redirect several brucellosis management proposals now before the public that we view as serious challenges to our shared values.

For example, recent documents, including the Jackson Bison Herd, Long Term Management Plan EA (1996), the Wyoming Interim Brucellosis Management Procedures (“Wyoming Settlement Plan” - 1996), and the January 10, 1997 Federal Register Proposed Rules published for the Department of Agriculture – APHIS bode ominously for both the cattle industry and free-roaming wildlife in northwestern Wyoming.

First, we feel that if the rule changes set forth in the Federal Register become standard operating procedure, Wyoming's Brucellosis Free Status will be in immediate jeopardy, if these proposals are enacted, control of the world's largest population of free roaming bison will be essentially turned over to APHIS, a Federal agency who's operational expertise does not include wildlife management. Third, if these proposals are adopted, it will lead to the unnecessary killing of hundred, if not thousands of wild bison (and eventually elk).

Fourth, if the proposals presented in the Wyoming Settlement Plan are put in place, among other things, they will require biannual testing of livestock. We view this as unnecessary and resulting in the undue holding and handling of livestock leading to increased costs to the ranchers, increased manpower needs, and increased stress on the cattle. In fact, there is already a Market Cattle Information System in place that exists to alert interstate markets of disease problems. Therefore, another testing program would be redundant.

While we share your concern for protecting the “Brucellosis Free Status” of Wyoming, we think it is secure now because there is no recent history of brucellosis transmission from wildlife to cattle in Teton, Park and Sublette counties and because the ranchers in this area protect their cattle through vaccinations. In addition, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WG&F) carries out winter depradation elk hunts (when and where requested) which keep elk off private cattle deed grounds, thereby eliminating that potential for disease transmission. The WG&F Department would be in a position to do the same if or when bison entered private feed lines.

We ask you to understand that the ranchers of this area are not asking for the measures proposed in the above mentioned documents and that they are not asking for the removal of wildlife from their public grazing areas. We ask you to understand that the conservation community is not asking that the ranchers remove their cattle from public wildlife range. We ask you to understand that the ranches of this area view the possibility of brucellosis transmission from wildlife to cattle to be so insignificant that it poses no real threat to their interests. Nor does the conservation community view brucellosis as a threat to wildlife populations. We ask you to understand that the real threat to our interests are the proposals originating from and/or driven by APHIS and the unfounded premise that brucellosis poses a real threat to man and beast.

We urge you to consider our position and work with northwestern Wyoming's ranchers and conservationists and recognize the common ground which exists between these two major citizens groups, the very groups most effected by this issue. We urge you to concentrate your management efforts on non-lethal and non-invasive methods of minimizing the already insignificant risk of disease transmission rather than concentrating o the eradication of brucellosis via the lethal and costly methods now being proposed. We thank you for your time and consideration.

Signatories include, Former Senator Clifford P. Hansen, Brad Mead, Kelly Lockhart, Bob Lucas, Bill Resor, Franz J. Camenzind, PhD., Executive Director of the Jackson Hole Alliance for Responsible Planning, Mike Clark, Executive Director of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and Lloyd Dorsey, President of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation.

 

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