Brucellosis testing zone expanded
Fremont County added to zone in bid to calm concerns
By JOHN O'CONNELL
The Idaho State Department of Agriculture has added all of Fremont County to a designated surveillance area in eastern Idaho where livestock producers face special testing requirements to limit the spread of brucellosis.
The decision, prompted by the April discovery of an infected cow about 5 miles outside the current borders, should resolve trade concerns among other states and comes as no surprise to the Idaho cattle industry.
"It's one of those things you hope you don't have to do, but the No. 1 goal of everybody involved in the zone, and certainly the Idaho Cattle Association's goal, is to protect the health and well-being of the cattle, specifically those that run in the zone, but also throughout the whole state," said ICA President Richard Savage, of Hamer.
The DSA, established in 2010 to prevent wildlife from spreading brucellosis to cattle, is located along the Wyoming border and includes portions of Teton, Bonneville and Caribou counties. Brucellosis causes cattle to abort their young and can be spread through afterbirth. It can also be spread to humans through ingestion of unpasteurized milk and dairy products.
Owners of resident herds in the DSA must complete risk assessment plans, vaccinate their livestock for brucellosis and identify all sexually intact animals leaving its borders. Blood testing of sexually intact animals over 18 months old is required following ownership changes, movement outside of the DSA and interstate movement. The federal government finances the tests.
Seasonal grazing herds using the DSA from Jan. 1 to June 15 are also regulated, though ISDA will grant exceptions if producers can demonstrate elk and other wildlife aren't posing a risk when cattle are present. Cattle within infected herds must be quarantined to their premises until undergoing three negative tests.
Throughout this fall and winter, ISDA will be working to help newly regulated producers draft brucellosis management plans, said Tom Williams, the agency's veterinarian for Eastern Idaho.
"It's basically to determine when and to what extent they may have elk interaction," Williams said. "The other thing we try to do is talk to these guys and see if there's any way they can mitigate interaction through changes in management practices -- run in different pastures at different times of the year, run steers or spayed heifers in high-risk areas."
Elsewhere in the DSA, Williams said his agency has helped build structures to keep wild elk out of feed.
ISDA will host public outreach meetings to educate producers about the DSA expansion. The first meeting is planned for 6-8 p.m. Nov. 28 at the University of Idaho Fremont County Extension Office, 19 W. First N., St. Anthony.
Savage acknowledged future circumstances may necessitate further adjustments to the DSA.
"It's a pretty good chance that it will (expand again). Our intention is to protect the breeding herd of cattle wherever we run into it," Savage said.