Wildlife advocates are protesting a goverment plan to kill an undetermined number of bison from Yellowstone National Park after scientists conduct a birth-control experiment on the animals with an EPA-registered pesticide with the goal of lessening the prevalence of brucellosis in the herd.

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Government officials say the seven-year study by a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture seeks to lessen the prevalence of brucellosis, a disease that can cause domestic cows to abort, within the nation’s last wild herd of pure-bred buffalo, or bison.



_Brucellosis can be transmitted by female bison during calving season when the infectious bacteria are shed along with birthing fluids.

Yellowstone last month granted the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) a permit to pen 49 young female bison and four bulls for breeding at a research facility outside the park. The animals are to be stock for an experiment involving as many as 100 bison from the 3,700-head herd.
_Buffalo advocates say it is appalling that government scientists will conduct potentially harmful experiments on iconic animals that draw millions of visitors to Yellowstone every year.

They also object to the notion of chemically sterilizing animals of a wild herd targeted by ranchers because of a disease brought to North America centuries ago by European cattle. The Yellowstone bison are currently allowed to breed freely.

“The buffalo removed for the experiment are never going to be returned to Yellowstone, and their treatment — being penned and bred like cattle — is very inappropriate,” said Dan Brister, head of the Buffalo Field Campaign.

USDA spokeswoman Lyndsay Cole said the project is aimed at curbing the spread of brucellosis from Yellowstone bison by using a contraceptive the government developed to control the reproduction of white-tailed deer._