A Cure for Bison
In 2014, bison at The Nature Conservancy's Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma fell ill by the hundreds. They lost weight, had trouble breathing and became lethargic. The herd had contracted a deadly bacterium called Mycoplasma bovis, a pneumonia-like illness with no known cure and almost certain mortality. Knowing that their herd of about 2,500 animals was likely exposed, The Nature Conservancy partnered with Ted Turner Ranch. The ranch had developed an experimental vaccine, and with no other options, TNC decided to take a chance on this glimmer of hope.
The treatment came with no small amount of risk. The vaccine had never been used on this scale before, and even more critically, delivering the medicine meant rounding up the herd during calving season. Babies would have to run the gauntlet with their mothers. Could the bison be saved, and with it, the largest swathe of tallgrass prairie remaining in the United States?