From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 8 - May 20, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

GRVCA discusses brucellosis

by Rhonda Swain

About 20 concerned citizens attended the Green River Valley Cattlemen's Association Executive Board meeting Wednesday, May 12, in the Sublette County Extension Office. The purpose of the meeting was to gather input from local ranchers, and discuss brucellosis protocol, and brand inspections and commuter cattle.

Most of the meeting focused on brucellosis issues, with Joel Bousman and Albert Sommers, Sublette County's representatives on the Governor's Brucellosis Task Force, giving an update.

Sommers said surveillance testing of cattle after Wyoming again reaches brucellosis-free status is one of the big issues the task force is addressing. He said neighboring states want cattle from this area tested.

Bousman expounded on the statement when he said: "The other states' livestock boards and other state vets are telling our state vet that, regardless of what Wyoming does, they're telling Jim Logan they don't give a damn if they test a thousand cattle out of Wheatland, they want cattle tested out of these areas close to western Wyoming. Otherwise they're going to impose restrictions."

A Uniform Methods and Rules promotion for certified brucellosis-free herds was discussed that would require two brucellosis-free tests within 10 to 14 months and keeping track of cows leaving and entering the herd. Sommers said, "I explained to them that we often don't know where our cows go."

He said the program is specific in that it requires tag numbers. Tagging could be worked into a brucellosis-testing program to go along with preg testing in the fall.

Sommers said that they seem to be willing to work around these problems, and Bousman commented that the advantage would be marketability anywhere and any time of the year.

Stan Murdock commented on pressure on producers in this area from Colorado and Nebraska even after Wyoming reaches brucellosis-free status. He said at least Nebraska is a little more sensible and a little more consistent than Colorado, which Murdock said he feels the affected ranchers will never be able to make happy.

Murdock also commented that while Logan felt if Wyoming reached brucellosis-free status, the issue would "go away within a year," an APHIS representative didn't agree. At that, Wayne Jensen of Boulder said, "Maybe it'll never go away."

Bousman said he and Sommers have stressed to the task force that WG&F needs to develop, for each feedground, an individual brucellosis management plan, which WG&F claims they have for some feedgrounds. The management program would have to involve the ranchers that run cattle near the feedgrounds.

Sommers said: "I think eventually Joe and I are going to be stuck in a position with having to vote yes or no on a surveillance program. There is a definite push to make a mandatory testing protocol on this side of the state over in this area."

He said he feels after Wyoming gets its brucellosis-free status back, the certified idea on a voluntary basis will pick up, especially with ranchers near the elk feedgrounds. To that end, Sommers asked: "My question to you is, do we bite the bullet and just go for voluntary no matter what or ... how comfortable are people with mandatory testing of cull cows, something like 24 months of age and older?"

He said he felt testing cull cows in the easiest way out.

Sommers asked what the group wanted in regard to testing, and said the program probably wouldn't be statewide. Paul Hagenstein said: "Well I think it better. I think the state better quit zoning us off. We went through this 30 years ago. ... I think it's about time we hit them alongside the head, and if they don't feel it the first time, we hit them on the other side until we get their attention."

Jim Greenwood said, "I think we should go with any county that has elk in it, they have to bleed them, if they're going to zone us out."

Greenwood concurred, "We've got to quit looking at jumping through hoops for these other states and start protecting ourselves." He commented on the possibility of this area being blamed if untested commuter cattle are trucked in and are infected when they leave, when if fact they could have been infected before entering the state.

Sommers agreed with those comments and said he would like to see it remain statewide, but, "The only thing is, I don't think that's going to happen," he said. "I'm wondering, what's the next best thing? ... We can push for a voluntary test of cull cows or we can push for statewide testing, I don't really care." But he also commented on having no control over what other states do, "even if we jump through every hoop."

After all the discussion, the group agreed to have Sommers and Bousman push for a voluntary, statewide testing program as much as possible. Sommers did ask how ranchers in this area would feel if some little bug was found in another area of the state, localized there, and area ranchers were mandated to test for that bug.

As to compensation for testing, Sommers commented on the cost involved in depopulating a herd, losing income from an entire calf crop and having to purchase replacement cattle.

"One thing we're going to try to request is that the lost calf crop be in there," referring to the compensation program. He also said if auction cattle are found to have high titers and are required to stay at the auction yard for a week, he felt there should be yardage compensation.

Bousman felt that sale barns should be compensated so that their personnel would be willing to test.

Corby McGinnis said she felt testing should be a requirement for commuter cattle as well. She said Utah currently is not mandated to vaccinate for brucellosis.

Related to the commuter cattle issue, the group agreed to nudge the Wyoming Livestock Board about brand inspections, especially for commuter cattle, cows and calves in particular.

Sommers remarked that commuter cattle should be under the same rules as Sublette County cattle. It was agreed to come up with a resolution to send to WLB about enforcement of the commuter cattle rules.

After discussion about fencing elk feedgrounds, the test and slaughter of elk being "dead in the water," according to Sommers, individual plans for individual feedgrounds and a vaccinating program for elk, the executive committee approved GRVCA offering to facilitate an elk feedground management plan.

Sublette County Weed and Pest Director Adriane Peterson updated the board on the Wyoming Wool Growers proposal for Wyoming weed and pest districts regarding predator control.

Peterson said that at a meeting in Casper, the executive board of WWG requested bringing in the weed and pest on predator control, and asking for an extra mill for funding. Only two predator board members attended the meeting, and Peterson said the proposal wasn't put before the predator board. She explained that predator boards are allowed to go before their respective county commissions for further funding if needed.

Of the weed and pest districts across the state, she said that 20 didn't want to get involved, and two did not respond. Locally, she said Sublette County Predator Board President Lary Lozier was not very happy, and did not want predator control to be part of the weed and pest district in Sublette County.

She said at the end of the meeting in Casper, WWG "more or less said they would probably look for other funding, but it was a pretty heated discussion, and I'm not sure that's where it's going to end," she said.

Some predator control boards don't work with Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, including Sublette County's, and some do.

Peterson said the state, with the department of agriculture, will probably eventually have to take over wolves, and that is the reason for the proposal to involve weed and pest districts.

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