Another cow has been found to be infected with brucellosis costing the state of Montana its brucellosis-free status :
Sick Cow Costs Montana Its Brucellosis-Free Status – Mathew Brown – AP
The cow in question was among a herd in Paradise Valley south of Livingston.
Montana veterinarian Marty Zaluski said the loss of brucellosis free status is particularly frustrating given efforts by livestock producers and the industry to mitigate risks and increase disease surveillance.
“Producers in the Paradise Valley have been involved and diligent, and they have taken it upon themselves to be proactive in regard to managing the risk of brucellosis transmission,” Zaluski said. “In this particular case, the owner did everything right. The cow had been vaccinated twice and was part of a herd management plan.
The state’s “diligence” includes the largest slaughter of Yellowstone’s bison in the past century, sanctioned under the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP). The threat of brucellosis transmission is used as the primary justification for the haze and slaughter of bison in Yellowstone despite transmission between bison and cattle having never been documented. This case, and the preceding case, is no different.
But if not bison, then what ? Again, on NewWest :
McDonald of the Cattlemen’s Association said the second case does not come as a surprise. “I’m only surprised it took as long as it did,” he said. “It’s obvious that park wildlife is a reservoir of brucellosis.
The state veterinarian maintains that elk transmitted disease to the preceding case of the Bridger cattle herd teeing Montana up for loss should another case of transmission, this case, occur. But for all the ‘Chicken Little’ rhetoric about the potential economic consequences of Montana’s loss of brucellosis-free status, and for all of the resources spent and wildlife slaughtered and “managed” to placate livestock ranchers, the government agency failed to secure blood-sampling which might have vindicated, or acquitted, wildlife as the source of the disease. Robert Hoskins commenting on NewWest :
Let’s not forget that APHIS failed to secure the necessary blood samples from 6 of the 7 affected Bridger cattle at the slaughterhouse because of a concern of violating the slaughterhouse owner’s private property rights.
If the threat of brucellosis is so dismal as is suggested and the state and federal government are so sure that elk infected these livestock, then what problem would the owner of the slaughterhouse have with allowing the federal government to take blood from the infected animals to scientifically test such allegations ? Private property rights ? It seems we have a double-standard – BFC Press Release 5/29/08 :
With horses, a helicopter, state and federal law enforcement, and U.S tax dollars to spend, Montana Department of Livestock agents have descended upon the cattle-free Horse Butte Peninsula, violating private property rights and upsetting human and wildlife residents in an attempt to chase wild American bison out of Montana and into Yellowstone National Park.
Apparently, wildlife advocates don’t have private property rights – or, as far as the IBMP participating agencies are concerned, wildlife advocate private property rights are less equal than Livestock’s private property rights.
How about some more irony: Let’s say the cattlemen have their way and it’s the elk. What then ? Keith Aune, chief of wildlife research for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks explains in an interview that brucellosis can become a problem in elk herds when numbers are not kept down and that “reducing the size of the affected elk herd” keeps brucellosis at bay. Hmmm… What might we get to keep elk herds at healthy numbers thereby mitigating the risk of brucellosis transmission ? Aune similarly castigates the Wyoming elk feed-grounds as seeding herds with brucellosis who migrate and spread the disease to the adjacent states of Idaho and Montana.
Don’t hold your breath on the Montana Stockgrowers or Cattlemen having a sudden epiphany and endorsing wolves as natural agents of brucellosis mitigation or condemning their Wyoming counterparts’ lobby to keep Wyoming’s brucellosis farms open an extra month this year.