Buffalo burger – commonly known for a low fat/high protein punch, and there may be a lot more hitting the market place.

According to Yellowstone National Park spokesman Al Nash in a Reuters article, Yellowstone is the homeland for an estimated 4,600 bison in the United States’ last purebred herd – and half are estimated to be exposed to brucellosis.

Bison have Montana ranchers on edge with brucellosis exposure

Controversy has struck as park managers look into a plan involving the capture of bison migrating onto Montana state lands and shipping them to Native American tribes who would be responsible in transporting them to packing plants.

While animal activists are showing resistance against the plan, ranchers are worried about the ramifications if bison aren’t maintained and contaminate their herds.

According to The Center for Food Security and Public Health, the brucellosis causing bacteria, brucella, are, “usually spread through contact with infected birthing tissues and fluids (e.g., placenta, aborted fetuses, fetal fluids, vaginal discharges). The bacteria can also be found in the milk, blood, urine and semen of infected animals. Animals can get the bacteria by ingestion (oral), direct contact with mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth), or breaks in the skin.”

The bacteria is also easily transmitted by clothing, feed, equipment and water. Brucellosis, commonly referred to as “bangs disease,” is capable of causing infertility, abortions and stillbirths.

According to Montana State Veterinarian Martin Zaluski, park officials had the option to inject bison with vaccine via “biobullets” to prevent the spread of the disease, but declined to do so.

Because the herd is approximately 1100-1600 head over its target population, migration is expected to increase. Plans to thin the herd will take several strategic years of culling 600-800 bison a year.