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Rev Sci Tech. 2013 Apr;32(1):263-70.

Bovine brucellosis in wildlife: using adaptive management to improve understanding, technology and suppression.

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National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park, P.O. Box 168, Mammoth, Wyoming 82190, United States of America.


Eradication of brucellosis from bison (Bison bison) and elk (Cervus elaphus) populations in the Greater Yellowstone Area is not possible with current technology. There are considerable uncertainties regarding the effectiveness of management techniques and unintended effects on wildlife behaviour and demography. However, adaptive management provides a framework for learning about the disease, improving suppression techniques, and lowering brucellosis transmission among wildlife and to cattle. Since it takes approximately three years after birth for female bison to become reproductively active and contribute to brucellosis transmission, there is an opportunity to implement actions such as vaccination and the selective removal of infectious bison based on age and assay results to reduce the potential for transmission. Older adult bison that have been exposed to the bacteria, but recovered from acute infection, could be retained in the population to provide some immunity (resistance) against future transmission. Through careful predictions, research, and monitoring, our understanding and technology will be improved and management actions can be adjusted to better achieve desired outcomes.

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