From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 40 - December 29, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Idaho to be downgraded

by Cat Urbigkit

The Idaho State Department of Agriculture announced late last week that it has learned that Idaho will likely lose its brucellosis-free status and will join Wyoming in its class A status.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is expected to publish a public notice of the status change in early January 2006.

ISDA is considering its options, including its right to appeal USDA's decision, according to spokesman Wayne Hoffman.

Class A status will require increased testing of certain cattle that move out of Idaho. At a minimum, all intact male and female cattle over 18 months of age that are not going directly to slaughter will have to be tested for brucellosis before they can be shipped out of state. Additionally, cattle herds in eastern Idaho that have contact with wild elk in the winter and are identified as high-risk by ISDA will be required to be tested for brucellosis. Such a testing regimen will increase costs for Idaho's cattle producers.

The USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service complimented ISDA veterinarians for their "aggressive and immediate" response to an identified brucellosis case in eastern Idaho. But APHIS officials say federal regulations are inflexible once a second herd with a brucellosis reactor is discovered, and the federal government is required to reduce the state's status.

The change in designation follows the October discovery of brucellosis in a Swan Valley cattle herd. Later, a virgin heifer from that herd was traced to a small feedlot near Arco.

While ISDA said the reactor heifer in the small feedlot should be considered part of the original herd, APHIS disagreed and determined that the small feedlot was a second brucellosis infected herd. The discovery of a second herd triggered the change in Idaho's status to class A.

"Idaho and other states in the Greater Yellowstone Area have a challenge to maintain brucellosis-free status, but with extra care we managed to keep the status inplace for more than a decade," ISDA Director Pat Takasugi said. "We will continue our vigilance, and we ask cattle owners to do the same. Our veterinarians will continue to work with APHIS and the cattle industry to regain brucellosis-free status."

Idaho can apply to regain its brucellosis-free status if no new cases emerge after one year.

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