Wyoming Livestock Board approves DSA boundary expansion
Cheyenne – At its April 5 meeting in Cheyenne, the Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) discussed and approved the proposed expansion of the Designated Surveillance Area (DSA) boundary for brucellosis management.
“The area in southern Lincoln County, south of the forest boundary, would be added. It would go down to Highway 30, and up Highway 139 to the La Barge area. The reason for including that area is because of the numerous producers who are dealing with elk comingling with cattle – one even had elk right in a feedlot with a bunch of replacement heifers. I have had multiple producer calls from that area,” explained Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan of the proposed new boundary.
“In Park County, all three cases with positive cattle or bison are currently under quarantine, and within existing boundaries, but they are all very near the current boundary, and we know there are seropositive elk crossing Highway 120 and going out the east side of the DSA. We are recommending an increase of the DSA in Park County to include the balance of the county, which would go to the Park and Big Horn county lines, and then follow that line down through the upper northwest part of Hot Springs County, to the existing boundary line. Then follow that down the west side of the Wind River Indian Reservation to the southeast corner of Sublette County, then back over to La Barge and Highway 189, down to the Highway 189/Highway 30 junction, and follow that boundary west to the Idaho border,” explained Logan of the new DSA.
“I think we need to take a proactive step to protect our trading partners, and also our Wyoming producers and their marketability within the DSA, as well as protect the livestock health of the herds in the balance of Wyoming. I realize there is some reason for debate, especially with the Lincoln County addition, but I do have the concern that leaving the boundaries where they are could result in finding a case of brucellosis outside the DSA,” continued Logan.
Wyoming Game and Fish Department Deputy Director John Emmerich provided the prevalence of seropositive elk, by hunt area, to the board, and it was used, in part, to determine the new DSA boundary line.
“We have sampled cow elk since 1991 in some hunt areas, and typically we sample each area every two to three years. Prior to modifying the DSA boundary, we wanted to know where we had seropositive elk within the hunt areas of western Wyoming,” explained Emmerich.
His data in the proposed expansion areas showed an 11.6 percent seropositive rate in Hunt Area 63 on the Hot Springs/Park County line, a 2.6 percent rate in Hunt Area 65 between Powell and Lovell, a zero percent rate in Hunt Area 104 near Cokeville, and a 1.1 percent rate in Hunt Area 102 northeast of Kemmerer. These percentages were based on anywhere from 80 total samples in Area 104 to 189 samples in Area 63.
When asked how many additional producers the movement of the boundary would impact, Logan replied that his best estimation was roughly 30 additional producers in Lincoln County, and 50 more in Park and Hot Springs counties.
“The Lincoln County area proposed to be added includes many producers who summer in the forest, and are essentially already required to test because they go into the DSA in the summer. We don’t know if numbers of cattle tested would be increased much in that area, although there would certainly be some increase,” noted Logan.
He added that Wyoming’s Brucellosis Management Application is due to the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) by April 30, and having a defined boundary included in that application would be most ideal.
“I certainly think we should consider a 30-day notice – a period of time for public comment for those ranchers who would be affected,” noted WLSB Vice President Brent Larson.
Board member Pat Cullen also asked about the possibility of working through herd plans, and if there would be a limited impact on some operators as a result of them.
“I think there’s a possibility, when doing herd plans, that there may not be much additional affect on some producers,” answered Logan. “In those plans we have a questionnaire that assesses the risk of comingling at certain times of the year. I’m not really worried about summertime, but January through May, or even June, certainly concerns me, and we would do herd plans based on that questionnaire.”
The board also asked for an explanation as to why Fremont County, which has a higher instance of seropositive elk than the proposed expansion area in Lincoln County, is not included in the expanded DSA.
“When we look at these DSA boundaries, we have to look at a couple things. One is elk movement patterns, and where cattle are during those times that the elk are in a certain area. In that part of Fremont County, I won’t say there are no cattle present in the winter, but very few cattle are in that area during the wintertime, which is our time of concern. In Lincoln County there are high concentrations of cattle, and very high concentrations of elk – there’s a huge difference in density during critical times of the year,” explained Logan.
WLSB President Eric Barlow commented that he was concerned the Game and Fish Department’s seroprevalence numbers weren’t significant enough to be considered true epidemiology, and asked whether APHIS would accept them as such. He added he felt it was a good first step, but noted the board may have to revisit the issue if the information isn’t considered inclusive.
Cullen moved to establish the new boundary and boundary description as a board order, effective April 30. Following additional discussion, board member Albert Sommers moved to amend the motion to add an informal comment period for the DSA description to be included in the board’s Chapter 2 rules.
The board unanimously passed both motions, and Logan will proceed with the new boundary description.
Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.