Weekly Poll

What's the cause of unemployment in Park County?




Results

 


April 26, 2011 7:15 am

Powell area to be included in brucellosis surveillance zone

Written by Tessa Schweigert

New boundary extends to Park-Big Horn County line; takes effect April 30

At the end of this week, all cattle in the Powell area will be part of an expanded brucellosis surveillance zone. For local producers, that will mean more stringent requirements for testing and identifying cattle. The new “designated surveillance area” boundaries take effect Saturday.

“It’s your cattle we’re trying to protect. We’re not trying to force something down your throat — we just don’t want to see brucellosis in your herd,” state veterinarian Jim Logan told about 60 area producers gathered at a Wednesday meeting in Powell.

The existing surveillance area includes Park County west of the Wyo. 120 highway as well as Teton and Sublette counties, western Fremont County and northern Lincoln County.

However, some viewed the Wyo. 120 boundary as simply an imaginary line — and nothing stops migrating elk from crossing it, Logan said.

Beginning April 30, all of Park County and a small portion of northwest Hot Springs County will be included in the surveillance zone, meaning more testing and identification for cattle in the area.

“In the Powell area, enough elk are coming into close enough contact with enough cattle that the risk of transmission concerns me,” Logan said.

In the past year, three Park County herds have tested positive for brucellosis, forcing quarantine and slaughter of the diseased animals. Brucellosis can cause spontaneous abortions, infertility and weight loss in cattle, elk and other mammals.

If cattle outside the designated surveillance area (DSA) are found to have brucellosis, the entire state of Wyoming is at risk for losing its current brucellosis-free status. However, under interim rules, the United States Department of Agriculture is allowing Wyoming to keep its status by testing herds within the DSA and removing cattle infected by brucellosis.

The primary purpose for all the regulations and expanded DSA is “to preserve the marketability of your cattle and the rest of Wyoming’s cattle,” Logan said.

Generally, area producers understand the reasons for the expanded surveillance zone, and agree with it even if they aren’t happy about it, said Dan Hadden, a local brand inspector.

“The state vet and (livestock) board are trying to protect the state,” said Tim Latham, a Powell livestock producer. “I don’t blame them. I don’t like it, but I understand it.”

Latham said the Wyoming Livestock Board and producers are doing what they can to protect cattle from brucellosis, but he doesn’t see the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service working to reduce the disease in elk and bison herds.

“My biggest beef still goes back to producers having to bear the brunt of protecting the state’s brucellosis status when another branch of the state is harboring the diseased elk,” Latham said.

Logan also told local producers Wednesday night that, in his opinion, the Game and Fish isn’t doing enough to manage brucellosis in wildlife herds throughout the state.

Latham said he has contacted Wyoming legislators, Gov. Matt Mead and Wyoming’s Congressional delegation about the issue.

Hadden expects it will take a while for producers to get used to the new DSA restrictions, especially when moving cattle out of Park County to graze or sell.

“It’s going to take a while to educate everyone … if we can get through this first year, I think things will get better for everyone,” Hadden said.

All sexually intact cattle moving out of the DSA must be properly identified.

“Females and males, regardless of age, before they leave the DSA, they have to be identified with an approved tag,” Logan said.

Neighboring states to Wyoming, Idaho and Montana have demanded that cattle in the Greater Yellowstone Area be vaccinated, tested and identified. While bulls are not carriers of brucellosis, they still must be identified with an approved tag when moving out of the DSA.

“The key thing that the other states have demanded is that we need to have traceability,” Logan said.

All cows within the DSA must be vaccinated for brucellosis.

“Cows over 12 months have to be vaccinated. Period,” Logan said.

All test-eligible cows — meaning they are 18 months or older or visibly pregnant — must be tested 30 days prior to being sold or moved outside of the DSA.

“The state pays for testing. We pay vets $3.50/head in the designated area,” Logan said. “But that doesn’t account for wear and tear to your vehicles.”

The cost of the test and IDs are minimal compared to other expenses incurred by raising cattle in the DSA, Latham said, noting the costs of all the time and energy that go into following the new restrictions.

One producer asked Logan what the estimated expense will be for those in the DSA. While he didn’t have exact figures available, Logan said an agricultural economist is studying it.

For producers in the DSA, “obviously, there is going to be some increased expense, there’s no doubt about it,” Logan said.

For some areas of eastern Park County, Logan said “we know there are cases where exposure to elk is likely nil — and we’re willing to work with you” through herd management plans.

“We encourage you to execute a herd plan, which may — and the key word is may — alleviate some of the testing requirements,” he said.

Herd plans consist of management practices that help producers prevent brucellosis in their herds, Logan said, noting the plans are voluntary.

During the Wednesday meeting with livestock producers, Logan also asked them to do things such as reporting abortions or fetuses found in grazing areas.

“I know it’s a pain, but you can ask three producers in the county what it’s like to have this disease in your herd — that’s a royal pain in the neck,” Logan said.

Leave a comment

*The Powell Tribune reserves the right to remove inappropriate comments.