Better ways exist to control bison herd

Letter to the editor by Patricia M. Fazio, Ph.D.

Cody, Wyo., Feb. 18, 2016 -- Bison cows may be contracepted by using an immunocontraceptive vaccine called porcine zona pellucid – native PZP – developed 30 years ago for use in wild horse herds.

It has been conclusively shown, more recently, that it works on bison in the Catalina Island herd off the coast of southern California. See this story from National Public Radio.

It could be used in Yellowstone National Park and anywhere else where there is a population surplus of bison. Why national parks have not adopted this methodology is a mystery to me.

The NPS is a preservation agency, and bison are considered a native North American species, even though they evolved in Asia.

I have worn an NPS uniform. On the shoulder patch is a white bison. This species has been in North America for 150,000 years, having migrated east over the Bering Land Bridge. It did not evolve here originally but is considered native.

PZP vaccination is inexpensive ($24 per dose) and may be delivered remotely via a dart gun. Don’t we have enough bison “farms” already to give us the meat desired?

I am not an animal rights activist but have a degree in animal science, and I find it unnecessary to slaughter these animals when there is a viable alternative in up-front population control. No wonder the NPS is restricting access to the slaughtering process. They are ashamed ... and they well should be.

This is ignorance and callousness at the highest level. Shame on all of these officials. These are publiclyowned wildlife, and transparency is required by law.

Originally published in the Cody, Wyo., Enterprise, Feb. 18, 2016.

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