Request a National Academy of Sciences Review of
Wildlife Brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area
Sue Masica, National Park Services, Intermountain Regional Director
Please Request the National Academy of Sciences conduct a scientific
review of Wildlife Brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area.
The issue of brucellosis in the Greater
Yellowstone Area States, has severe implications for our livestock
industries, as well as our treasured public wild bison and elk.
We recognize that our elected officials in Washington D. C., the
Greater Yellowstone Area States of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho, in
addition to various agencies within the U.S. Departments of Interior
and Agriculture, share a need for responsible, peer reviewed science
to base their wildlife management decisions on.
"The National Academy of Sciences
charter commits the Academy to provide scientific advice to the
government 'whenever called upon' by any government department."
To ensure that science, not politics and special interests, drive
the public discussion and foundation of brucellosis disease management
policy in the Greater Yellowstone Area wildlife, we are humbly writing
to request that you call upon the National Academy of Sciences to
conduct a thorough scientific review of brucellosis disease management,
concerning wildlife (predominately elk and bison), in the Greater
Historically, a number of policies involving
brucellosis management have not been rooted in responsible science,
rather assumptions. For years, the Federal Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service has been promoting an agenda of brucellosis eradication
from the Greater Yellowstone Area, a position which is not socially,
humanly, economically and scientifically supported. As a result,
by their own statements, millions of federal taxpayer dollars (other
sources cite billions) have been spent, targeting Yellowstone National
Park bison, on an assumption that the wild bison were the major
vector of brucellosis transmission, which actually resides with
the elk. Now that the special interest groups and agencies responding
to the APHIS brucellosis eradication in wildlife agenda are aware
it is the elk genotype, which is a small transmission risk threat
to cattle, that machinery is now turning it's sights to the elk
Science, not politics, needs to address
the following questions:
1. What is the actual zoonotic transmission
risk of Brucella abortus to humans from brucellosis exposed wildlife?(accounting
for the fact that many involved with livestock and wildlife vaccines
are the major source of accidental Brucella abortus infections in
2. What is the actual transmission risk to livestock from brucellosis
exposed wild bison or wild elk in the Greater Yellowstone Area?
3. What is the environmental impact of the APHIS agenda of eradication
of brucellosis in the wildlife, on the GYA states, to the habitat,
as well as the genetics of the bison and elk populations?
4. Additionally, are the goals and practices of agriculture livestock
management compatible with the goals and evolving practices of the
conservation sciences that protect and promote ecological integrity
of the GYA states for future generations?
5. Finally, what are the economics of the livestock management model
for brucellosis eradication, within the wildlife populations of
the GYA states??
Here is some background prompting this
Eradication involves capture test and slaughter of wildlife simply
showing antibodies to exposure, which can also represent natural
and acquired immunities, not only infection/infectious.
The science being produced today reports
that the transmission risk from wild YNP bison to cattle is 0.0-0.3%,
elk representing 99.7%-100% of the risk. No documented case of wild
bison to cattle transmission has ever occurred in the wild. The
genetics show that the Brucella abortus of wild bison differs from
that of elk and cattle, which is almost identical, which affects
species transmission. "Our results indicate that elk and cattle
isolates are virtually identical genetically, differing by only
one to two mutational steps. On the contrary, bison B. abortus differed
from cattle and elk by 12-20 mutational steps."- DNA Genotyping
Suggests that Recent Brucellosis Outbreaks in the Greater Yellowstone
Area Originated from Elk, 2009. Molecular Epidemiology of Brucella
abortus Isolates from Cattle, Elk, and Bison in the United States,
1998 to 2011, 2012.
Of the 99.7%-100% of the risk that elk
pose, that risk is 0.00024% chance that any one Montana cattle will
become infected from elk. Percentages that can be reduced by recommended
mitigation methods such as later cattle turn out dates on public
lands, running only spade heifers and steers on public lands, transmission
risk methods of stack fencing, etc. Not all cases of brucellosis
infections in cattle, since 2008, in the GYA states have been from
elk, some have been cattle vaccine blooms and cattle infections.
Science, not politics should be managing
our wildlife, so I ask you to please request a thorough scientific
review by the National Academy of Sciences.
Public citizens of the United States,
are owed nothing less, in the stewardship, policies and management
of our public trust resources, on behalf of this generation and
future generations, than the knowledge and ethical principles of