Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Herd of Genetically Pure Bison on Henry Mountains in Southern Utah

(AP Photo/Brian Witte)

 Yes we do need as many originals as we can possibly round up in order to rapidly expand the overall herd.  This provides a reservoir of genetic material that can be used to restore the genetics of all the hybrids out there.

I expect the 500.000 animal herd to be heavily expanded and also bred forward to achieve better  characteristics and all that.  Yet it us a generational enterprise that will take decades because we are not actually trying too hard.  If we tried, the herd would double fairly quickly as in under two generations even, but let us accept seven years.  Then that could jump to thirty million or so in thirty years.  Remember the cattle population explosion in the South West during the Civil War.

The Western ecology actually demands these animals for all sorts of excellent reasons and they easily out compete cattle.  The transition has begun but needs a policy level support structure put in place.  We all want to eat bison at a competitive price...

Researchers Discover Herd of Genetically Pure Bison on Henry Mountains in Southern Utah

By Epoch Newsroom | December 25, 2015

Last Updated: December 25, 2015 9:15 am
(AP Photo/Brian Witte)
Researchers have discovered an extremely rare herd of genetically pure bison in Utah.

The scientists from Utah State University analyzed tissue samples from the herd to confirm the discovery.

“We’ve got a very, very special case in that the Henry Mountains bison is actually in fact the only population of bison in existence which is now both genetically pure and is free of the disease brucellosis and is free-ranging on public land co-mingling with cattle and is legally hunted,” Dr. Johan du Toit, professor of ecology and large mammal conservation, said in the announcement.
“So, we have this very unique population which is one of a kind. It’s a large credit to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, the Bureau of Land Management, and the local Henry Mountains Grazing Association. Over the years, they worked together to conserve this resource.”

The researchers say the herd could have a big impact on future bison conservation. The species has been in steady decline since Americans started settling the West. At the peak in the 1500s, an estimated 30 to 60 million bison lived in North America, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Now, we only have 500,000 bison but, of those, only 20,000 are what we would consider to be wild bison. Now we have a third herd of free-ranging bison that is disease-free and doesn’t show any introgression of cattle genes,” Dr. Dustin Ranglack, the lead author of the study, said.

“That actually makes the Henry Mountains bison, in a way, almost even more valuable than [the herd in] Yellowstone. Because of that, they can represent a really important source for potential reintroduction projects that are trying to restore bison to a large portion of their native range.”

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