Skip to comments.Scientists hand Ottawa a blueprint for a mass cull of bison
Posted on 03/22/2006 9:44:03 AM PST by managusta
CALGARY The document reads like a doomsday scenario for Canada's largest free roaming herd of bison.
Offer bounties to encourage hunting. Set up hunt camps. Radio-collar "Judas" animals to more easily track herds. Use corral-traps to corner about 4,500 wild animals. Shoot them from the ground and the air. Get rid of the remains so the carcasses -- many infected with bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis -- won't spread diseases.
All of this would happen in Wood Buffalo National Park, an area larger than Switzerland, that straddles the boundaries of Alberta and the Northwest Territories, under the stewardship of the federal government, which is supposed to look out for the well-being of the wild animals.
The so-called bison Holocaust isn't new. But it is rearing its head again as health officials around the world try to cope with diseases, including bird flu and mad-cow disease, that have health and economic implications for humans.
"Times are changing," said Chief James Schaefer of Salt River First Nation in Fort Smith, NWT.
In 1990, mass culling was recommended by the Federal Environmental Assessment Review Office. But news of the mass slaughter caused an outcry here and abroad. The controversial plan was shelved.
Mr. Schaefer said stakeholders couldn't agree on how to cull and repopulate the park with disease-free animals. For him and the 300 or so people who live near the park, the bison that wander in and out of invisible boundaries are part of a way of life.
"We depend too much on them for food," he said.
Last fall, 32 scientists met to figure out whether it was possible to eliminate the diseases from the park by culling the herd and then reintroducing the species.
Experts from Environment Canada, the University of Alberta and the Canadian Wildlife Service helped draft the 84-page "Proceedings of the Bison Disease Technical Workshop," which is making the rounds at Parks Canada.
Ottawa has not endorsed the scientists' plan.
"There is no active discussion between governments at this time," said Douglas Stewart, director-general of national parks with Parks Canada.
According to the report, the cull would take 10 years and the repopulation through salvaging the diverse genetic material from the disease-free members of the herd would take a decade after that. It would cost between $62-million and $78-million.
The report, however, doesn't say whether the cull should be done.
"The organizers recognize this controversy, but believe an answer to the technical feasibility of disease eradication is necessary to inform the broader policy questions surrounding the issue," the report said.
In other words, it doesn't kill the debate.
Interestingly, bovine tuberculosis, a chronic, debilitating respiratory disease that results in death, and brucellosis, which causes spontaneous abortions and stillbirths among infected cows, were imported when Ottawa shipped bison there in the 1920s to bolster the new park's population. The animals from Wainwright, Alta., contracted the disease from cattle, but so far, the disease hasn't been passed back to domestic cattle from the bison.
"This is something our industry has been working on for 30 years plus," said Ron Glaser, a spokesman with Alberta Beef Producers, which worries about losing Canada's disease-free status of domestic stocks.
Neither illness is treatable in a practical sense, said Gerald Hauer, Alberta's assistant chief veterinarian. Antibiotics are prohibitively expensive and the diseases are tricky to treat.
What about a mass slaughter?
"Lots of different groups have different opinions," he said, "Other people say let it run its course."
He doesn't know which option is preferable. There is a theoretical risk that the disease could spread to Alberta's beef or bison industries as wild bison mingle with domestic herds, but it is "quite small," he said.
"It is on the radar. We are concerned about it," Dr. Hauer said.
Mass cull of bison? Time to break out the Henry.....
Who wants another burger?
Hee Haw! Where do I sign up?
Because letting the animals die of respiratory failure is preferable to allowing them to be humanely put down. Benevolent Nature and all that Bambi-loving BS.
Time to clean off the 45-70 govt.
I tried Bison once. Didn't care for it. It wasn't horrible, Elk and Venison are just much better tasting.
Buffalo burgers are real yummy!!
This must be the latest move by "ranchers" to make the outdoors as park like as possible. All threats must be killed.
Have you ever eaten a turtle burger?
I have an idea..just drill for oil there..it'll kill all the animals, according to the envirowackos...but at least we'll have some gas..
No but I've had rattlesnake.
Cruel and a damned good way to get killed, shooting a bufallo with a popgun like that. In most of the states it isn't even legal to shoot a deer with something as wussie as a .44 rimfire.
"Bless the beasts and the children"... anybody remember that maudlin film? Karen Carpenter (pbuh) did a good job on the song, though...
My Sharps is in the shop!
Also turtle stew, Chinese sweet & sour turtle, etc.
Anyone know where to apply for a hunting permit for these buffalo?
A hunting we shall go, a hunting we shall go,- -
I followed Teddy Roosevelts lead.
I found an old British blackpowder .500 Express double rifle.
Balistically identical to the Sharps big 50 and an instant followup shot.
He took one West with him as a young man.
I never saw the movie, but I recall the book being enjoyable in high school.
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