Last week, Montana governor Brian Schweitzer signed an executive order blocking the shipment of Yellowstone bison to Montana to be slaughtered. This order effectively halts the bison slaughter, at least temporarily. The bison are believed to be infected with brucellosis, and during harsh winters, the bison will leave the park and journey into Montana in search of food. Brucellosis is a flu-like illness that can affect humans and other animals. In cattle, the disease can cause a pregnant cow to abort her fetus, and the disease can be passed to humans through unpasteurized milk and cheeses. Local ranchers are concerned that the disease will spread from the bison to their cattle, and want the bison slaughtered.
In signing the order, Schweitzer stated, "More than anything else, this is a direct signal to the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C. to get their hat screwed on right and manage this bison population." Ironically, Schweitzer's stated reason for saving the bison is not concern for the bison. He's concerned that transporting the bison to Montana to be slaughtered will put Montana's cattle at risk for contracting brucellosis.
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