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UPDATE: Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer signed an executive order, good for 90 days, that blocked the impending slaughter of hundreds of Yellowstone National Park bison.
Nearly 400 buffaloes are facing slaughter after having wandered outside Yellowstone National Park. This winter’s massive snowfalls have blanketed the buffaloes’ territory, making it necessary for them to wander farther to find food.
Many buffaloes made their way into parts of Montana, where they were greeted by angry cattle ranchers who insisted that the buffaloes be killed so that they could not infect the ranchers’ cows with brucellosis, a disease that can cause miscarriages. Interestingly, there has never been one reported case in which a buffalo has spread brucellosis to a cow; it has only been accomplished in the laboratory.
The buffaloes are currently being fed and held in pens. Government officials originally announced plans to ship the buffaloes to slaughter, but after conservation groups requested an injunction, a judge granted a stay to the killings. The buffaloes are not yet out of the woods, however, and officials continue to test each animal for brucellosis while a decision is made on what to do with them.
Written by Michelle Sherrow