Wyoming Livestock Board discusses budget, bison, brucellosis
Cheyenne – At the Oct. 7 meeting of the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) members discussed current topics ranging from the agency’s budget going forward to the recent release of an alternative national brucellosis plan.
WLSB Director Jim Schwartz described a recent budget meeting with Governor Freudenthal as successful. “Everything in our standard budget was approved,” he said, adding that it will be a tight budget year.
For the brand program the WLSB had requested $198,000, including additional dollars for travel expenses, and it was granted $95,000. For law enforcement $30,000 was approved, and $25,000 denied. A request of $18,000 to help with board meetings and expenses was denied. The $675,000 brought in for predator board fees was approved, and will be passed through to state predator boards.
Regarding animal restitution, Schwartz said that part of the budget pays for the animals taken in and their care. “Some years we spend more money than we get, and other years we don’t spend it all and it ends up reverting back to the state’s general fund,” he said. “It’s been a valuable program, and we’re very conservative with it, so many years we do revert money back, but it is good to have that money available. It’s very critical.”
In the brand program, Schwartz said the agency made every effort this year to combine the budgets of brand recording and inspection, but that hasn’t moved forward. Also, he said they tried to get away from the 35/65 percent split on brand inspectors’ time, but the Governor didn’t approve the proposal.
“It looks like we’ll have to live with that for a long time to come, and that creates only a little problem like this year, when we had 10 brand inspector positions we didn’t fill and the 35 percent general fund money obligated to those positions went back to the general fund, where we otherwise could have used it to help the earmarked account,” said Schwartz.
“Our brand inspectors don’t like to be bean counters, but it’s hard to get weaned out of the 35/65 budget,” he continued. “I don’t see where we’ll get out of that, so we’ll continue with our daily lives and justify the 35 percent.”
Core concepts proposal
“I still support the general concept of this deal. The devil will be in the details,” said Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan when conversation turned to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) proposal published in the Federal Register in early October.
He said the concept paper is vague enough it’s difficult to pinpoint some details, but that the real details will come out in the memorandum of understanding the three states – Wyoming, Montana and Idaho – will sign with APHIS should the paper become rule.
“That’s where the nitty gritty details would be spelled out,” said Logan. “I can support the general concept, but some things I have a little heartburn with.”
He noted one of those things is how brucellosis cases outside the Designated Surveillance Area would be handled as foreign animal disease. “That’s one of the things on which they didn’t listen to us, and I guarantee we’ll come back with strong comment to get that language changed,” he said.
A representative for APHIS Associate Regional Director Jerry Diemer said before publication Diemer was under the impression cases outside the DSA would not be treated as foreign animal diseases. “His suggestion is to be certain to address that item extensively in your comments, and detail the problems with it and why you don’t think it should be handled that way,” he said.
In addition to the brucellosis proposal, WLSB member Eric Barlow pointed out that a tuberculosis proposal was also released, with the same comment period timeframe. Both proposals bear a comment deadline of Dec. 4.
Bison imports to state parks
The Board also discussed a plan to import bison from the Montana APHIS quarantine facility to Wyoming state parks. The bison would come from the same facility from which the Northern Arapahoe Tribe was considering importing to the Wind River Indian Reservation earlier this year.
“Ultimately, getting the bison in the Park cleaned up may well depend on getting some released for placement elsewhere to preserve the genetics that are claimed to be in the Park,” said Logan of the positive brucellosis status of bison in Yellowstone National Park. “If we get enough bison outside the Park with the pure genetics, it’s more feasible to expect the people hell-bent on saving the genetics would allow cleaning up the positive animals and repopulating the Park with the clean animals.”
Currently there are bison herds in the Hot Springs and Bear River state parks. Two other potential locations for the Yellowstone bison are Glendo or Guernsey. The Guernsey location is contiguous with the National Guard base, which two years ago expressed interest in bison.
“I think long-term it’ll give the Park Service a lot more flexibility in management,” said Schwartz of the proposal.
“Part of the quarantine release states that bison will not commingle with any livestock or any other bison,” said Logan. “It’s not that we’re pushing this, but it will be part of the ultimate solution, if one ever happens, on for bison in Yellowstone. We have the opportunity to help facilitate that.”
Christy Hemken is assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at email@example.com.