From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 39 - December 23, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Split status for state discussed

by Cat Urbigkit

At last week's Brucellosis Task Force meeting in Lander, task force member Shawn Madden told the group he wanted the report to address the possibility of splitting the state's brucellosis classification status. Madden said he does not want Wyoming to have split status, but said if brucellosis continues to be a problem in the Yellowstone region and USDA will not grant Wyoming brucellosis class-free status, "at some point, if that does not happen, it needs to be taken up."

State officials may want to be able to consider split status for Wyoming, Madden suggested, and the report should address the issue so that brucellosis will still be a priority for the entire state.

"If you're a rancher in the (Yellowstone region), you don't want to be up here on an island by yourselves," he said. "It's something far less than our first choice, but everyone still has to be involved in all these issues ... I'd like to see this group have some kind of a statement, so that ... if and when, as our last choice, we accept that sort of thing ... so that we don't leave these guys on an island."

Task force chairman and University of Wyoming Dean of Ag Frank Galey noted that a few dozen ranchers in the Yellowstone region wouldn't have the clout to have the state continue its priority efforts to combat the disease, should splitting the state be achieved.

Daniel-area cattleman Albert Sommers acknowledged his concern: "I do worry about being on an island ... We get forgot about."

Cathy Purves of Lander, a task force member and representative of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, said since the Yellowstone region has nationally significant wildlife populations, there is no need to fear an island effect.

"Wildlife is still a part of that issue," she said. "I don't think that the producers will be forgotten."

Boulder cattleman Joel Bousman reminded the group: "If it was a western Wyoming problem only, this group wouldn't have been convened. It's only because the state lost its status, that this group was called together."

Bousman said he has no doubt if the problem was left to western Wyoming, all the money and support "would evaporate."

Wyoming State Veterinarian Duane Oldham said, "If we stand together on state issues, we're going to be a lot better off."

Donal O'Toole of the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory said that the issue should be addressed, suggesting the report state that the cost of managing brucellosis could be reduced if split status were achieved, but adding that there are distinct disadvantages to this classification.

"I also think it needs to be there for the folks in Sublette County and Teton County to know what's at stake here," O'Toole said. "In other words, it reminds them that the rest of the state is relying on them to do their job. We had a failure." O'Toole, stating, "I don't mean to be provocative, but I will say it anyway: If this were kicked back on those three counties, perhaps the ranchers in those three counties would have a slightly different view on continued maintenance of the feedgrounds."

O'Toole said it is his opinion that Wyoming will not get its brucellosis class-free status back for several years, so wording suggesting split status should be included in the report, "as an incentive to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and as an incentive to ranchers, to take this issue seriously."

The group agreed to insert into the report a note that it had discussed the issue and agreed that split status is not attractive at this time.

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