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APHIS denies extension for herd depopulation

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Cheyenne – A Daniel rancher whose herd was found to be infected with brucellosis earlier this summer has until Aug. 29 to depopulate his herd or Wyoming will lose its brucellosis free status.
    According to a mid-July memo from Wyoming State Veterinarian Walt Cook, two timeline extension requests were submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The first request, asking for more time to test adjacent herds, was granted. That gives the state until Oct. 31 to complete testing on neighboring herds.
    The second request, which would have allowed the producer until after this fall’s tests are complete to make his decision, was denied. If another brucellosis-infected animal is found this fall Wyoming would lose its class free status regardless of the Daniel producer’s decision.
    “He is most likely going to test out, keep testing and removing positives until his herd is declared clean,” says Cook. “He may change his mind before Aug. 29, but I doubt it very much. He will be testing his herd again next week and again late August. He will be analyzing those results to make up his mind 100 percent.”
    Unless the producer changes his mind Wyoming will lose its brucellosis-free status, but Cook says he’s not yet sure what that will mean for livestock producers across Wyoming. “I am sure there will be some statewide testing requirement. But, we are hoping we can limit that to breeding animals only and do more in-depth testing in the risk area,” says Cook.
    Sublette County producers have expressed their support for the Daniel rancher’s decision not to depopulate his herd. WLSB officials, in earlier editions of the Roundup, have said it’s time to update federal regulations surrounding brucellosis to better reflect present-day situations. The regulations were written at a time when cattle to cattle transmission was the largest risk pertaining to brucellosis. With the wildlife to livestock transmission risk in northwest Wyoming, depopulating a cattle herd does little to nothing to mitigate disease risk. Participants in recent online poll at agreed, with nearly all respondents saying it’s time to update the federal regulations.
    Two neighboring herds have been tested with no cattle testing positive for brucellosis. Additional herds will be tested this fall when they come off summer pasture. As additional testing gets underway on the producer’s ranch and others, Cook says the state and federal government do pay for the testing. “Personnel from both agencies take the samples and we pay for the actual testing at the state vet lab.”
    Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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