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APHIS Veterinarians, Protecting our Nation’s Wildlife Populations

Dr. Jack Rhyan, APHIS Wildlife Pathologist, Fort Collins, CO

Dr. Jack Rhyan, APHIS Wildlife Pathologist, Fort Collins, CO

I’m Dr. Jack Rhyan and I’m a wildlife pathologist for USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Veterinary Services. I’ve worked for APHIS since 1990, and had spent seven years at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories before taking my current position at the National Wildlife Research Center.

I am a member of the Wildlife/Livestock Disease Investigations Team. The team’s job is to learn more about diseases that affect both livestock and wildlife populations and to use this knowledge to provide guidance to our partners and other agencies that manage wildlife populations. We’re also highly involved in using science to help cure diseases that occur when livestock and wildlife come together.

The team conducts several animal studies and we spend a lot of our time working with the animals involved. Sometimes this means doing hands-on work with animals, while at other times we’re in the office developing budgets and working on other aspects of the project. One of our current studies deals with quarantine of Yellowstone National Park bison that leave the park to ensure that they are free of brucellosis.

This isn’t my first project with Yellowstone National Park’s bison. I’ve spent a fair amount of time working with these animals over the years. One of the coolest things I’ve done was a study that involved putting radio collars on bison for monitoring. After that, three times a year we went out in the field and got biologic specimens from the animals to test for brucellosis. It was great being in the field and doing hands-on work with those fascinating creatures.

Yellowstone was also the site of one of the most intense moments of my career. I was leaving the park with a colleague one cold, winter night. We were winding our way up a sheer incline on a switchback trail in the dark. We suddenly realized we were off the trail on a sheer incline in deep snow without a light. Luckily, we didn’t end up there all night because we managed to use the radio to contact a park employee, who came to rescue us.

The idea to become a veterinarian struck me during college. I liked what I knew about veterinarians and thought it would be a good and interesting career. I am glad I chose to pursue this field because I do feel I make a difference. I’m always doing something new and am continuously learning. At the same time, my work helps educate others and eventually impacts how wildlife is managed. I’m proud of what my team does to help our wildlife and livestock populations.

APHIS and USDA are joining with organizations around the world to celebrate World Veterinary Year by highlighting the work of veterinarians on the USDA blog.  This post is part of a series underscoring the important and diverse work of APHIS veterinarians.  Check back each Thursday as we showcase the work of a different veterinarian.

24 Responses to “APHIS Veterinarians, Protecting our Nation’s Wildlife Populations”

  1. Steve C says:

    Dr. Rhyan’s a biostitute for the cattle industry. These aren’t Yellowstone’s bison, these are the last remaining wild bison in the Americas. Brucellosis is not a problem for wild buffalo, outside of the nefarious politics that mismanage them for the cattle industry.

  2. Ruth Aroni says:

    Dear Dr. Rhyan:

    The buffalo are not in danger of transmitting brucellosis, I pray you will leave them be.

    Sincerely,
    Ruth Aroni

  3. Dona LaSchiava says:

    Dr Ryan, I don’t have a clue as to why you feel so good about your chosen place of employment when a good part of your job is to misrepresent and skew scientific results as part of a conspitatorial method to decimate the very creatures whose well being you are supposed to be protecting. From where I come from, we call that being a JUDAS!

  4. kim bergen says:

    you must be joking. what a white wash. a snow job. you folks at this “agency” (cattle ranching lobby, is more like it) know dam well from loads of data that brucellosis is not only not a threat to bison, but it is not transmitted from bison to cattle.

    you and all your “scientific” work are a sham and a waste of my taxes.

    my only hope is that one day, you and your fellow devotees of manifest destiny will wake up from your white-man supremacist delusion that the old world must conquer the new. we (whites) have made this land poorer, not richer. richer only for white men. poorer for everything else, which, in your schema, are less deserving.

    do us all a favor and stop pushing an old world animal on an environment it doesn’t belong in, and leave the buffalo to do their thing. we stupid whites also thought farming the plains was a great idea. all that we got out of that bit of manifest destiny brilliance were unprecedented dust storms and drained aquifers. leave the plains and let it recover. give the bison, the tall grass, the black footed ferrets, the prairie dogs, the song birds and all the rest a chance to recover. then give it all back to the first nations. take your white man arrogance and stupidity and go home.

    sincerely,

    a very disgusted, disapproving and ashamed white woman

  5. stu lips says:

    APHIS is the agency that recently stole 53 ecologically extinct wild buffalo to conduct birth control experiments on. APHIS likes to treat wild buffalo like livestock and there is not a single thing we have seen from them that could be remotely considered “protecting” wildlife. Dr. Rhyan notes that one of the “coolest things” he’s ever done is radio collar wild buffalo, while further stating that his “work….impacts how wildlife is managed.” Yes, we know that all too well.

    Dr. Rhyan, who probably admires buffalo in his own way, should be reminded that these are not “Yellowstone” bison, but America’s last wild population, and that brucellosis is not a problem for wild buffalo, outside of the nefarious politics that mismanage them, and that to truly love a wild and free creature, it is important to let them be wild and free and learn from them on their terms! NOT LIVESTOCK INTERESTS OR YOUR OWN DECIMATING AGENDA TO WIPE THEM OUT. thanks

  6. DIANE M. KASTEL says:

    APHIS is the dark force behind the Interagency Bison Management Plan. They are the agency that initiated the bison quarantine study. They are the agency that has been molesting bull bison to study their semen. They are the agency that recently stole 53 ecologically extinct wild buffalo to conduct birth control experiments on. APHIS likes to treat wild buffalo like livestock, and there is not a single thing we have seen from them that could be remotely considered “protecting” wildlife. Dr. Rhyan notes that one of the “coolest things” he’s ever done is radio collar wild buffalo, while further stating that his “work….impacts how wildlife is managed.”

    Dr. Rhyan, who probably admires buffalo in his own way, should be reminded that these are not “Yellowstone” bison, but America’s last wild population, and that brucellosis is not a problem for wild buffalo, outside of the nefarious politics that mismanage them, and that to truly love a wild and free creature, it is important to let them be wild and free and learn from them on their terms.

  7. Jim Horn says:

    I hope the work you do insures life and free agency for the wild bison of Yellowstone. These last of the original free roaming herds should be protected and their nature of roaming free protected. Every bull, cow or calf we loose due to cattlemens use of their habitat is a crime. Cattle we have plenty of, buffalo we do not and they need constant protection not harrasment.

  8. Shirley Smith says:

    With all due respect, Dr. Rhyan, the buffalo you are working with are not Yellowstone Bison; they are, however, America’s last wild population of bison. They are loved by American’s and tourists from around the world who travel great distances to get just a glimpse of one of these magnificent creatures.

    I understand brucellosis is not a problem for wild bison, outside of the nefarious politics that mismanage them. They are not ‘livestock’. Why would it be important to capture them for birth control studies – wouldn’t this fall under harrassment, instead? You are managing them, you say and everything is done for their ‘protection’? If that is so, then I completely disagree? I do not believe your are protecting them and if you were they would be living on their natural habitat and be free of constant hazing and harrassment to the point of death in some instances.

  9. Karen says:

    You know it’s funny Mr.Rhyran how one person can look at what they are doing in hazing, trapping, molesting, killing and in general harming bison in Yellowstone and Montana as protecting wildlife and others, like me, look at my tax dollars being spent on hazing, trapping, molesting, killing and harming bison in Yellowstone and Montana as destroying the wildlife. All in the name of allowing private individuals to use my federally owned property for their cattle for a pittance.

    Funny how one persons perception of an issue is so self centered and biased depending on who is signing their paycheck which in this case is the American public.

  10. Ranko says:

    Dear Dr.Rhyan,

    The “coolest thing” that you could do would be to leave the poor bison alone. They do not need you “help.” The only thing that these last remaining wild buffalos need is room to roam. These buffalos are ecologically extinct and your continued harassment only exacerbates the problem. I would appreciate it if you would consider these points before you conduct any future experiments. Perhaps you could even consider ways to help the buffalo population thrive and prosper in a way that nature intended.

  11. Lee Eakins says:

    This tax-paying Montanan does not trust, nor believe that APHIS is attempting to assist bison. What I know is that APHIS is in the back pocket of the cattle industry.
    It is time and we support all efforts to help, not harm bison. Thank you.

  12. Eric says:

    Thank you for this article. I hope you will advocate for the protection of our last wild buffalo. They must be allowed to roam, free from molestation, throughout their native habitats.

  13. Jane D. Turner says:

    Evidently you have not learned enough yet. Help protect the bison, stop testing, harassing, hazine, shooting and slaughtering America’s last wild population of bison. Haven’t they suffered enough at the hands of humans???????
    Help by setting them free to roam free, reproduce without harassment or quarantine. Leave them alone by fighting to protect them by keeping them SAFE!!!!!! We are supposed to protect wildlife not torture them!!! Please rethink what you are doing.
    Even though I am a concerned citizen from Virginia, I am outraged at Montana’s treatment of the bison. My nephew & his family just came home from a visit of “Old Faithful”. They were unaware of the “treatment of the bison” until I informed them about the situation and to check it out for themselves. We need even more public awareness to help put an end to this situation.

    Please rethink your situation in order to help in better ways to “protect” the bison.

    Thank you.

  14. Avalon says:

    APHIS, as you are WELL aware Dr. Rhyan, is the dark force behind the Interagency Bison Management Plan.
    They are the agency that initiated the bison quarantine study.
    They are the agency that has been molesting bull bison to study their semen.
    They are the agency that recently stole 53 ecologically extinct wild buffalo to conduct birth control experiments on.
    APHIS likes to treat wild buffalo like livestock and there is not a single thing that anyone has seen from them that could be remotely considered “protecting” wildlife.
    Dr. Rhyan, you note that one of the “coolest things” you’ve ever done is radio collar wild buffalo, while further stating that your “work….impacts how wildlife is managed.”
    Yes, we know that all too well.
    Dr. Rhyan, you probably admire buffalo in your own way, but you should be reminded that these are not “Yellowstone” bison, but America’s LAST wild population, and that brucellosis is NOT a problem for wild buffalo, outside of the nefarious politics that MISMANAGE them.
    To TRULY love a wild and free creature, it is important to LET THEM BE wild and free and learn from them on their terms.

  15. Ellen Goodman says:

    Dr. Rhyan appears not to know that he and APHIS are considered to be evil forces by the Buffalo Field Campaign and its supporters, including me. To get an alternate view of the work of Dr. Rhyan and APHIS, consider the following information, provided by the Buffalo Field Campaign:
    We just came across a recent blog post by USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service veterinarian Jack Rhyan titled “APHIS Veterinarians, Protecting our Nation’s Wildlife Populations.” Huh? APHIS, as you know, is the dark force behind the Interagency Bison Management Plan. They are the agency that initiated the bison quarantine (read: domestication) study. They are the agency that has been molesting bull bison to study their semen. They are the agency that recently stole 53 ecologically extinct wild buffalo to conduct birth control experiments on. APHIS likes to treat wild buffalo like livestock and there is not a single thing we have seen from them that could be remotely considered “protecting” wildlife. Dr. Rhyan notes that one of the “coolest things” he’s ever done is radio collar wild buffalo, while further stating that his “work….impacts how wildlife is managed.” Yes, we know that all too well.

    We thought it would be fun for you – and actually, very important – to respond to this blog. Dr. Rhyan, who probably admires buffalo in his own way, should be reminded that these are not “Yellowstone” bison, but America’s last wild population, and that brucellosis is not a problem for wild buffalo, outside of the nefarious politics that mismanage them, and that to truly love a wild and free creature, it is important to let them be wild and free and learn from them on their terms. There are a lot of points in this post that could be addressed, and we’re sure you’ll find them.

    Ironically, the main obstacle to the welfare of the American buffalo, an iconic animal, together with wild horses, prairie dogs, wolves, etc., is the federal government, whose wildlife management programs tend to disrupt the lives of wildlife, haze them, shoot them, and otherwise degrade the natural endowments and moral standards of the country.

  16. Mark M Giese says:

    These are not “Yellowstone” bison, but America’s last wild population, and brucellosis is not a problem for wild buffalo, outside of the nefarious politics that mismanage them, and to truly love a wild and free creature, it is important to let them be wild and free and learn from them on their terms.

  17. Donna Semasko says:

    Wondering if your team has worked on any of the Bighorn investigations and, if so, what your research may have shown – Thanks much

  18. Montana Butch says:

    Huh? APHIS, as you know, is the dark force behind the Interagency Bison Management Plan. They are the agency that initiated the bison quarantine (read: domestication) study. They are the agency that has been molesting bull bison to study their semen. They are the agency that recently stole 53 ecologically extinct wild buffalo to conduct birth control experiments on. APHIS likes to treat wild buffalo like livestock and there is not a single thing we have seen from them that could be remotely considered “protecting” wildlife.

    These are not “Yellowstone” bison, but America’s last wild population, and that brucellosis is not a problem for wild buffalo, outside of the nefarious politics that mismanage them, and that to truly love a wild and free creature, it is important to let them be wild and free and learn from them on their terms.

  19. Jim Pearson says:

    Great summary of your activities, Thanks for sending!!

    Jim

  20. Diane Brodak says:

    All these studies on bison need to be stopped. Leave the wild animals alone. You say you are helping…..no, your hurting. These wild bison of yellowstone don’t deserve the poking and probing for a disease that really doesn’t effect the damn cows…. Let Them Roam free as they were meant to. Keep them out of quarantine pens.

  21. Bryan says:

    Just another vivisect-er hiding behind ridiculous unnecessary research to make a dollar. Wild Bison need to be wild….that’s how you can help.
    Cattle rancher’s whore….

  22. J MAYER says:

    Get a real job and leave the Bison alone. Someone should put a collar on you Dr. Rhyan and see what if anything you really do.

  23. Barbara Smolinski says:

    I would like to add that you have done more harm than any good at all. LEAVE THE WILD ANIMALS ALONE. They belong to the American people, not the government, the BLM and certainly not the rancher’s whom you are a paid to promote their agenda.

  24. Kathleen O'Neal Gear says:

    Dear Dr. Rhyan,

    Thank you for your work, especially as it regards brucellosis transmission from YNP bison and elk to farmed bison. Those of us who genuinely love the animal know that we must understand the routes of disease transmission or we will never be able to stop it.

    Sincerely, Kathleen O’Neal Gear

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