Precautions taken to treat disease occurrence in bison herd

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks has cancelled its 2006 buffalo auction, which was scheduled for November 15 at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge.

The cancellation was deemed necessary due to a very recent occurrence of a Mycoplasma bovis-induced pneumonia and arthritis among some buffalo in the Maxwell herd. Mycoplasma bovis is a major but often overlooked pathogen that causes respiratory disease, arthritis, and mastitis in cattle. When it was first isolated in the U.S. in the 1960s, it seemed to occur infrequently, but now the infection has become more widespread in cattle herds.

The 2,250-acre Maxwell Refuge is located 6 miles north of Canton in McPherson County. KDWP maintains a fenced-in display herd of about 200 buffalo at the refuge, and surplus animals are sold at auction annually.
KDWP staff will immediately begin an intensive vaccination program in order to eliminate the disease in the herd, according to Randy Clark, KDWP Region 4 public lands supervisor. The department plans to resume its annual buffalo auction at Maxwell in 2007.

KDWP maintains a separate herd of buffalo at the Sand Sage Bison Range near Garden City, and no animals in that herd have been affected. Surplus animals from the department’s herd at the Sand Sage Bison Range are usually sold at the annual auction at the Maxwell Refuge, but this year they will be sold on December 2 at the Kansas Buffalo Association’s auction in Salina.