From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 6, Number 9 - May 25, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Jackson cattle bleed clean in brucellosis test

by Cat Urbigkit

The Taylor Ranch cattle herd has been tested for brucellosis and results revealed the animals are free of the disease.

All 71 adult beef cows on the Taylor Ranch in the Gros Ventre tested brucellosis-free, according to ranch owner Glenn Taylor. Animal health officials drew blood from the cows on Monday, May 15 and the test results were reported to Taylor on Friday evening, he said.

Cattle on the ranch were placed under quarantine by Wyoming State Veterinarian Dr. Dwayne Oldham after Oldham discovered elk had commingled with the cattle herd this winter.

Cattle producers in western Wyoming, where 22 state-managed elk feedgrounds exist, called the quarantine a “draconian” use of the powers of the state veterinarian, while state wildlife officials declared their agency would not serve as an arm of the law-enforcement power of the Wyoming Livestock Board.

Brucellosis is an infectious bacterial-based disease that can cause abortion outbreaks in cattle, elk and bison. Cattle in Wyoming are vaccinated against the disease. Cattlemen in western Wyoming feed cattle on their private land in the winter months, and much effort is made to keep elk and cattle from commingling, although some commingling occurs on many ranches in the region, albeit for limited time periods until the animals can be separated.

In reaction to the state vet’s quarantine notice, the Green River Cattlemen’s Association and the Jackson Hole Cattle and Horse Association passed resolutions acknowledging the intensive brucellosis surveillance program already in place in the state’s livestock herds and called for the Wyoming Livestock Board to “cease and desist” the practice of quarantining cattle when commingling with elk occurs and there is no evidence of brucellosis in the cattle herd. But the livestock board unanimously endorsed Oldham’s action at its meeting earlier this month.

The adoption of formal policy statements on the issue came after wolves reportedly ran elk off a Gros Ventre-area elk feedground and the elk ended up eight miles away on the Taylor Ranch. Trying to keep the elk from the cattle feedlines proved nearly impossible, as did getting the elk to leave in deep snow. The ranch was working with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to bait the elk off the ranch and away from the cattle when the state vet’s office learned of the matter and stepped in with a quarantine.

WG&F Department Director Terry Cleveland has pledged that wildlife personnel would continue to work vigorously with livestock producers in keeping elk and cattle separated, but would not contact state livestock industry officials when commingling occurs.

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