WLSB discusses animal health, legislative issues
Cheyenne – In preparing for the Sept. 23-24 meeting of the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources committee meeting, Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) also discussed four bills, drafted by both Board staff and Legislative Services Office (LSO) staff, which could be considered for the 2014 legislative session.
“The first bill was an interim topic for the WLSB,” said WLSB Director Leanne Correll. “As you recall, we have several definitions of livestock. In the different chapters of our rules, it makes sense to have different definitions.”
Correll noted that a legislator new to the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources committee brought the concern forward.
“There was a question from the legislature about whether we need to take a harder look at it,” she added.
LSO drafted a bill based on multiple definitions utilized and why they are used.
“We are definitely not recommending that we do anything,” Correll noted.
Board President Liz Philp said, “I don’t think we can come up with a standard definition.”
The Board, Logan and Correll expressed agreement that nothing be recommended to the Joint Ag committee and state that the bill was unnecessary.
Animal care task force
Another interim charge of the WLSB was an animal care and welfare task force.
“The question that has been posed is, do we need a task force on animal care?” Correll explained, adding that the bill drafted by LSO is good but raises concerns. “We want to make sure that we keep ourselves in the realm of only livestock. We don’t want to get back into the pet animal care business.”
Board member Pat Cullen questioned, “How do we keep this task force such that it isn’t telling people how to care for their animals? How do we keep this from telling us what to do?”
Donna Baldwin-Hunt, a board member from Newcastle, further said, “It is hard to draw a fine line between being uninvolved and left off the table and being too involved to where we are in more deeply than we want to be.”
Philp added that there is a need for such a task force because of the increasing number of animal welfare cases being addressed by the WLSB’s law enforcement.
Correll agreed to carry all comments from the Board to the committee’s meeting.
A third bill addressed brucellosis funding for surveillance.
“We have funding in our budget directly tied to the Designated Surveillance Area,” said Correll. “The question is, do we have access to those funds to do testing in Big Horn and Sheridan counties?”
With recent findings of brucellosis in elk, Logan is concerned that funds are tied to testing within the DSA only, and noted that language in the draft bill allows the Board to allow funding for brucellosis testing in areas of imminent concern.
Board member Bob Lucas noted concern that the bill may extend DSA regulation to areas where testing occurred, effectively expanding the DSA, which was an action not supported by Board members.
However, when assured that the bill only makes funding available for testing in areas outside the DSA, the Board decided to support the bill.
“I think this bill does all the producers in the state a service to pay for testing and surveillance that need to be done out of the DSA,” said Baldwin-Hunt.
Lastly, a bill drafted by Logan after producers and brand inspectors expressed concern addressed livestock trespass and brought controversy.
Though the bill needs work, admitted Correll, she added, “We’ve had over 33 documented cases of livestock continually being on pastures that were not their own.”
While she noted that there are options for producers who have livestock trespassing on their land, Correll said, “The main thing is to somehow be able to allow law enforcement and brand inspectors to remove and impound those livestock.”
“We are talking about repeat offenders,” she clarified.
However, Board members, who emphasized that Wyoming case law dictates that Wyoming is a fence-out state, expressed concern and spoke largely against the bill.
“There are enough other remedies out there,” emphasized Baldwin-Hunt. “Just because 33 or 34 people don’t keep their livestock on their land, I don’t think we need all producers to be legislatively mandated.”
Using feed liens and civil action, producers can be reimbursed for losses due to livestock trespass.
“This is simply taking away our fence-out standards,” she added. “I don’t approve of any of it.”
While problems exist, noted other members of the board, the consensus was that the bill not be brought before the Joint Ag committee.
Jimmy Siler, WLSB law enforcement administrator, commented, “Our fence law is pretty antiquated.”
“We should have a general discussion about livestock trespass in the future on how we handle these things,” commented Meeteetse Board Member Joe Thomas. “These are problems I am facing now and we will continue to face in the future.”
The three bills drafted by LSO will be presented at the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources committee in Lusk on Sept. 23-24.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.