The Buffalo Wars

The wandering buffalo of Yellowstone National Park are the subject of a heated debate in the western United States. The animals carry a disease called brucellosis, which infects both buffalo and cattle and has economic consequences for ranchers. Some ranchers fear that buffalo, as they migrate out of Yellowstone in search of forage, will transmit the disease to cattle around the park and jeopardize their financial well-being. The Park Service and other government agencies have tried to control the situation by exercising a lethal form of boundary control for buffalo, though other wildlife species are unregulated. Animal advocates dispute the agencies’ tactics. Native Americans wonder why the buffalo are entirely under agency control. The park has become somewhat of a war zone, where the groups quarrel throughout the migratory season. Their disagreement is about much more than the animals themselves, taking root in even older and deeper conflicts. Yet despite the tangled nature of the problem, there may be room for negotiation and eventual resolution.


Susan Nasr

About Susan Nasr

Susan Nasr worked as a science writer at Technology Review magazine, Physician's First Watch, Children's Hospital in Boston, and at before pursuing a career in medicine. Thesis: The Buffalo Wars


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