From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 6, Number 17 - July 20, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Vet dispute continues

by Cat Urbigkit

After a lengthy discussion of the deficient livestock regulations at a Pinedale meeting Tuesday night, Wyoming State Veterinarian Dr.Dwayne Oldham broached another matter with area cattle producers. He said that when there is a situation where there is disease exposure from elk – “not cattle that are imported from a free state” – “we don’t get the support here where it’s needed.”

While area cattle producers were seeking a vigorous prosecution of those involved in the illegal import of unvaccinated cattle into Sublette County, Oldham was critical of the same producers for defending Jackson’s Glenn Taylor earlier this year in his dispute with Oldham over quarantining his cattle herd because they had commingled with elk on a cattle feedline.

Albert Sommers said, “There is a long line of import violations over the years that we believe has occurred in this county,” with little response from the Wyoming Livestock Board or the state vet. After learning that the broker arranging the Utah cattle deal couldn’t be charged because WLB had failed to follow through with finalizing regulation changes, Sommers called the latest event just the “latest blunder” of the WLB and the state vet’s office.

Oldham said although the Utah import case became high profile, “that’s where we really lose sight about what we really should be doing. We’re out to hang a guy because we don’t know him, because he’s from another state, because he did something illegal. ... But when we had a true disease exposure situation, we went through the ringer over that, trying to do the right thing for our status, to really try to prevent the disease.”

Oldham said, “There is no disease exposure here. There is none. He was coming from a free state.”

Oldham continued, “What I’m saying is, I think it’s pretty damn hypocritical to pick and chose which one, that’s all I’m saying.”

Joel Bousman said that in the Taylor case, none of the cattle producers said that the cow herd shouldn’t have been tested for brucellosis, but there were numerous complaints over the way in which the matter was handled and in the way that Taylor was notified.

Sommers, who served on the brucellosis task force that developed plans for how brucellosis issues should be managed in both elk and cattle in Wyoming, was critical of Oldham for taking action outside what had been discussed at the task force meetings by quarantining and bleeding a cattle herd because of commingling with elk.

Sommers told Oldham that the task force was working hard to address the issues, when “you come out as the lone gunner” and take unilateral action outside of anything that had been discussed among the group. Oldham responded that under state law, he has that authority. Sommers said his authority wasn’t being questioned.

Sommers likened the idea to the expected outrage should the Wyoming Game and Fish Department decide to close the elk feedgrounds without conferring with anyone else involved in the brucellosis issue.

Oldham suggested the cattlemen were using a different standard in the import case than in the commingling case. While the cattlemen wanted Taylor to have been treated well, Oldham said of the Utah cattle broker,“How about this guy? Are we supposed to handle him nicely too? Say, ‘Hey bud, we heard you imported some cattle. Let’s sit down and write you a permit.’ ”

The meeting ended with a wide chasm of difference in opinion between Oldham and western Wyoming cattle producers.

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