Issues of concern to people who live in the west: property rights, water rights, endangered species, livestock grazing, energy production, wilderness and western agriculture. Plus a few items on western history, western literature and the sport of rodeo... Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.
Saturday, January 02, 2016
The wild, wild West lives on in Utah bison herd
A four-footed remnant of the wild, wild West lives on in a remote mountain range in southern Utah.
New genetic tests confirm what has long been suspected: a herd of bison in the Henry Mountains is one of the few surviving populations of pure American plains bison, a species that once dominated the Great Plains and the western United States by the millions.
"When I say 'pure' I mean bison that have not been contaminated with cattle genes," said professor Johan du Toit of Utah State University's Department of Wildland Resources. "Most of the bison that are around today, particularly those on private land, are hybrids."
The absence of cattle genes is not due to a lack of cross-breeding opportunities. The Henry Mountains bison roam freely in an area south of Hanksville where domestic ranch cattle also graze under permits from the Bureau of Land Management. In spite of that close proximity, it appears there has been no inter-breeding in the seven decades the bison have been there.
Perhaps just as important: The Henry Mountains bison herd shows no signs of brucellosis. That disease has sparked decades of conflict with ranchers near Yellowstone National Park as purebred bison there have wandered out of the park in wintertime.
Now that the Utah herd is shown to be not only purebred but disease-free, the herd could play a primary role in bringing back a magnificent species that was nearly wiped out in the 1800s...more