Montana Hunters Question Proposed 5-Year Program to Hunt Infected Elk

Some Montana hunters are questioning a state study to to look at shooting brucellosis-infected elk.

From this story in the Helena Independent Record:
_A study that could end with the state-sanctioned killing of elk infected with brucellosis in Montana is raising concerns among some Helena hunters. The Helena Hunters and Anglers are holding a meeting on Dec. 1 and have asked two Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks representatives to explain the five-year program, which is slated to begin at the end of January. "We just want to get it all on top of the table and start talking about some things," said Jim Posewitz. "We haven't seen an EA (environmental assessment) of this thing, and it seems like it's been kind of a stealth effort. They're not keeping it a secret, but they're not publicizing it in front of people."
_
_According to Ken McDonald, FWP wildlife bureau chief, the study is meant to better learn the extent of brucellosis in the elk population and what impact, if any, it has on elk. Brucellosis is known to cause cattle to abort their fetuses and if it's detected in a herd all of the animals are killed. Yet while it's carried by bison -- which got the disease from imported cattle -- Yellowstone buffalo have a natural immunity to brucellosis and don't typically abort their calves. While brucellosis in elk has been looked at in one form or another for the past 30 years, it hasn't been explored in a manner that involves some statistically valid sampling. McDonald noted that in the past 10 years, hunters have sent them blood from cow elk they've harvested, but he said the samples were too widespread to give them much information.

"...Posewitz' group understands the value of learning more about the disease, but they fear FWP is taking a "giant leap" toward treating Yellowstone area elk in a fashion similar to how bison are treated -- in certain places and at certain times, those that try to leave the park are rounded up, tested and, if the results are positive, slaughtered to prevent contact with livestock. They believe this is the first time that resident elk will be captured, tested and slaughtered in Montana to protect livestock from possible exposure to brucellosis.

McDonald said his agency always is concerned about killing elk, but this will be done only for research purposes._

Your thoughts?