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Yellowstone National Park Proposes Slaughtering 1,000 Wild Bison
Yellowstone National Park officials are proposing a plan to slaughter 1,000 bison—mostly females and calves—from its herd this winter. The reason for the cull is to lessen the risk of Yellowstone bison infecting cattle herds in Montana with brucellosis, a bacterial disease, officials said yesterday.
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Park officials will meet today with tribal leaders, state and other federal agencies to reach a decision on the exact number to kill. “No formal decision has been made, but the park proposal is for 1,000 fewer bison," park spokesperson Amy Bartlett said.
The annual cull is deeply controversial. Yellowstone bison are the last wild herd of bison in America with fewer than 5,000 left. The amount slaughtered varies from year to year, but a 1,000-bison slaughter would be the largest cull since the winter of 2007-2008, when more than 1,600 were killed.
The cull formally began in 2000 when the state of Montana and the federal government reached an agreement to annually decrease the herd to prevent the spread of brucellosis, though annual culls date back even further. Brucellosis, a European livestock disease originally introduced by cows, was first detected in Yellowstone buffalo in 1917.
“Through the legal agreement the National Park Service has to do this,” Yellowstone spokesperson Sandy Snell-Dobert said. “If there was more tolerance north of the park in Montana for wildlife, particularly bison as well as other wildlife, to travel outside the park boundaries, it wouldn’t be an issue.”
As of this summer, there were 4,900 bison in the park, and officials are hoping to bring that number closer to 3,000.
Montana ranchers say the cull is necessary because bison who roam outside of the park infect their cows with brucellosis, which causes miscarriages. They also say that relocation is not an option because the bison will compete for grazing land with their herds. Wildlife conservationists, on the other hand, argue that the bison attract millions of visitors to the park every year and that their numbers are dangerously low, so they should not be killed.
"Ecologically extinct throughout their native range, and not yet federally protected, bison are endangered," the Buffalo Field Campaign said. The organization keeps a running tally of the number of Yellowstone bison killed since 1985. To date, that number is 8,567. Buffalo Field Campaign contended that "there has never been a single documented case of wild buffalo transmitting brucellosis to livestock."
The organization pointed out that "Yellowstone elk and other wildlife, also known to carry brucellosis, are allowed to freely exit the park without coming under fire as the buffalo do." They blame Montana's powerful livestock industry for the unnecessary slaughter.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) believes that there's a better way forward. "It's time to stop shipping bison to slaughter and give them access to year-round habitat in Montana," said Matt Skoglund, Director of NRDC's Northern Rockies Office. "This proposal reinforces the need for the Governor to make a final decision and put into place the plan to expand wild bison habitat in Montana. This would be a huge step in the right direction, as it would allow bison to access important habitat outside the Park and improve the ability for bison to be managed like other wildlife in Montana."
"Yellowstone's iconic wild bison are central to the long-term conservation of the species, as they are a large population and the only continuously wild and free-roaming population in the U.S.," he added.
The total number killed may largely depend on winter weather. If the snowfall is heavy, bison will be forced to migrate to lower elevations in search of food. And if they wander outside the park, they are more likely to face slaughter.
“You can’t predict how many bison will go into the trap,” Montana State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski said. “Nature has a way of defying your best expectations."
Most of the 700 bison that were captured as part of last year's cull were turned over to Native American tribes in the area for slaughter. "Hunters, including from tribes with treaty rights in the Yellowstone area, are anticipated to kill more than 300 of the animals," Associated Press reported. "Others would be captured for slaughter or research purposes."
But not all tribes support the cull. Jimmy St. Goddard, a spiritual leader of the Blackfeet Tribe in Montana, told Reuters, "the culling, for him, evokes a painful chapter of American history in which U.S. extermination campaigns pushed the massive, hump-backed creatures to the edge of extinction ... Killing these buffalo is shameful."
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Bread has been a source of basic nutrition for centuries, the holy trinity being wheat, maize and rice. It has also been the reason for a lot of innovation in science and technology, from millstones to microbiological investigations into a family of single-cell fungi called Saccharomyces.
Chemical leavening<p>If you like a little heft in your loaf, you will need a leavening agent.</p><p>For those short on time, you can use baking soda. That's a chemical compound of sodium bicarbonate mixed with potassium bitartrate, or cream of tartar.</p><p>Soda breads have their traditions in parts of eastern and central Europe, and in Ireland and Scotland, with Melrose loaves and "farls."</p><p>They can taste a bit bland, though, and are often considered only as an emergency solution on Sundays. No disrespect intended: They taste just fine fresh from the oven.</p><p>Whether it's chemical or more "natural," leavening relies largely on the production of carbon dioxide.</p><p>When you mix an acid, such as vinegar, buttermilk, yogurt or apple cider, with an alkaline compound like baking soda, you get CO2. That CO2 creates bubbles, which in turn capture steam in the oven and allow a bread to rise.</p><p><span></span>But it's better with yeast. Tastes better, too. It just takes more time. </p>
What is yeast?<p>There are yeasts all around us — on grains, in the air, in biofuels. It even lives inside us, but that's not always a good thing.</p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1090575/pdf/1471-2334-5-22.pdf" target="_blank">Candida yeast</a> can cause infections of the skin, feet, mouth, penis or vagina if it builds up too much in the body.</p><p>One of the most common yeasts, however, is <em>Saccharomyces cerevisiae</em>. That's <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/an-early-beer-archaeologists-tap-ground-at-worlds-oldest-brewery/a-45480731" target="_blank">"brewer's"</a> or "baker's" yeast.</p><p>You can get fresh baker's yeast, often in 42-gram (1.48-ounce) cubes, or as dried yeast (quick action or active, which requires rehydration) in a sachet of 7 grams.</p><p>There's little difference: One is compressed and the other is dehydrated and granulated. But they do the same thing, essentially. </p><p>Some commercial yeast producers add molasses and other nutrients. But natural yeast has plenty of useful nutrients in it anyway, including B group vitamins, so who knows whether it's good or necessary to add them. </p>
How does yeast work?<p>When you mix flour, yeast and water, you set off a veritable chain reaction. Enzymes in the wheat convert starch into sugar. And the yeast creates enzymes of its own to convert those sugars into a form it can absorb.</p><p>The yeast "feeds" on the sugars to create carbon dioxide and alcohol. The yeast burps and farts, releasing gases into the mix, and that creates bubbles to trap CO2. </p><p>It's a vital fermentation process that breaks down the gluten in the flour and helps make your bread more digestible.</p><p>The yeast cells split and reproduce, generating lactic and carbonic acid, raising the temperature and ultimately adding flavor to the mix.</p><p>The longer you leave the yeast to do its thing, the better for your bread. Time is more important than the amount of yeast. </p><p>In fact, that's an enduring question — how much yeast? I'll use 20 grams fresh yeast for 500 grams of flour. Others say that's enough yeast for 1 kilo. If you are converting a dry-yeast recipe to fresh yeast, some bakers advise tripling the weight. So, if a sachet of dried yeast is 7 grams, your fresh yeast is 21 grams.</p><p><span></span>But that also depends on the flours you are using, temperatures in the bowl and the room, and a host of other things. You'll just have to experiment and see. No number of books (and I've read a stack on bread) will help as much as trial and error.</p>
Wild yeast: Sourdough<p>So, good bread needs time. If you have a lot of time, why not move it up a notch and grow wild yeast — a sourdough starter — in your own home?</p><p>A sourdough starter is not to be mistaken (as it often is) for the leaven, or "mother," "sponge," or <em>levain</em>. That's more a second stage, a descendant of the starter. You take a scoop from your starter and add it to another flour and water mixture when you prepare the dough for a new loaf. </p><p>The sourdough process utilizes yeasts naturally present in flour and … yet more time. A longer fermentation process allows a richer lactic acid bacteria <em>lactobacilli</em> or LAB to evolve, and that can be healthy for your gut microbiome.</p><p>It's simple enough to start a sourdough starter. All you need is flour, warm water and time.</p><p>Some suggest equal measures of whole-grain flour and water at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), some say room temperature — just don't let the water exceed 40 C or the yeasts will die. Some suggest two parts flour to three parts water. But it's up to you whether you want a drier or wetter starter. You will know only through experimentation. </p><p>Some say you should filter tap water to remove chemicals like fluoride and avoid using water that's boiled and then cooled. Others say that really doesn't matter.</p><p>The main thing is, keep it clean and give it time. Days, weeks, months and years.</p>
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