BCT discusses brucellosis, budgets
Pinedale – The Governor’s Brucellosis Coordination Team (BCT) met in Pinedale April 18, as it has for a number of springtimes, to discuss updates and research for brucellosis and other animal diseases.
Gov. Dave Freudenthal created the BCT and named people from across the state to its task force in 2004, to focus on regaining Wyoming’s federal brucellosis-free status. Then, as now, Frank Galey, dean of University of Wyoming’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, chairs the semi-annual meetings.
The April 18 meeting kicked off with Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan addressing the Wyoming Livestock Board’s (WLSB) budget cuts.
He said, “WLSB voluntarily made some cuts in brucellosis appropriation,” but he believed enough remains to cover program costs.
Logan also reported WLSB and USDA are working together to deal with “traces” of tuberculosis (TB) from a South Dakota cattle herd.
“We do not have a case of TB in Wyoming, but we do have traces related to a herd in South Dakota,” Logan said.
That herd included some cattle bought in Wyoming, and later, 86 heifers were sold back into Wyoming. The agencies’ epidemiology has tracked almost all of those heifers. Some exposed in South Dakota were slaughtered, but tests showed they did not have TB, he added.
“It looks like we dodged a big bullet in Wyoming,” Logan said. “It’s the first significant issue we’ve had with TB since I’ve been the state vet.”
Veterinarian Bill Williams asked Logan about lobbying North and South Dakota about those states’ brucellosis rules from Wyoming’s designated surveillance area (DSA).
“To me, South Dakota is just sitting there on a pedestal,” he said. “They’ve got TB, they’ve got trich, and it’s like they’re sitting there on a pedestal. We have a few seropositive elk.”
Logan said he plans to inform other western state veterinarians about the facts relative to brucellosis at an upcoming conference.
The BCT also discussed Wyoming and USDA’s acceptance of herd plans and risk assessments in the DSA, noting Idaho, Montana and Wyoming “have very similar protocols.”
Montana State Veterinarian Eric Liska, who attended, was asked to talk about how the state deals with its DSA.
“Our approach is just a little different,” Liska said. “The risk is that producers are using ground in the DSA. If producers utilize ground in the DSA, they’re at risk for brucellosis, period. Because of that approach with us, there is no risk assessment – the risk is having cattle there.”
Wyoming’s Big Horn and Sheridan counties, where a handful of seropositive elk have been found, are not in the DSA. Elk and bison can carry and transmit brucellosis to domestic cattle, which has brought about numerous studies by the University of Wyoming (UW).
UW researcher Noah Hull described his team’s tests and experiments to lower false seropositive results with blood tests.
Wildlife managers at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) are also carrying out numerous tests and studies.
WGFD Director Scott Talbott predicted budget cuts would leave the agency short, especially with wolf management recently transferred into state hands.
WGFD biologists from across the state, including Brandon Scurlock from Pinedale, fully outlined current studies and data about seropositive elk, brucellosis, feedground management, habitats and migration routes.
At the end, Galey asked BCT members if they wanted to continue meeting annually. The group agreed they would like to continue meeting once a year, preferably in June when Talbott and WGFD biologists have their data from the previous fall and winter.
Joy Ufford is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and reporter for the Sublette Examiner and Pinedale Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.