For Immediate Release
May 18, 2007
CONTACT: Steve Merritt
Public Information Officer
Montana Department of Livestock
7 Montana Cows from One Herd Have Tested Positive for Brucellosis, Governor Remains Committed to Brucellosis Free Status and Solutions in Montana
A cow shipped from Baker, MT tested positive for brucellosis last week reported Governor Schweitzer and the Montana Department of Livestock today.
“We are concerned about our brucellosis free status,” said Governor Schweitzer. “Federal and State agencies are investigating the test results now and we will continue to work toward solutions to keep Montana’s brucellosis free status.”
The state maintains its brucellosis free status until 2 herds test positive under federal guidelines. If Montana loses status, all adult cattle going out-of-state will be brucellosis tested at the owner’s expense. “If we lose our status we will be looking at ways to help ease the burden on private livestock owners,” said Governor Schweitzer.
- May 1, 2007 - 51 head of Angus cows were tested for brucellosis in Baker, MT for destination to Iowa.
- May 4, 2007 - 1 Cow tests positive May 8, 2007 Cow was euthanized at Iowa State University. Blood samples were positive for brucellosis
- May 16, 2007 - Trace-back herd of 301 cows in Bridger, MT were tested at the Mt Department of Livestock Diagnostic Lab
- May 18, 2007 - Blood tests from trace-back herd: 6 of 10 are positive for brucellosis
- May 18, 2007 - Investigation continues
The cattle originated from a ranch where Yellowstone bison had not commingled. The likelihood of the source being Yellowstone bison is remote. In recent years both Idaho and Wyoming have lost their brucellosis free status, Governor Schweitzer said the following in March testifying before Congress:
The livestock industry in Montana and nationwide has gone to great lengths, at substantial costs, to eradicate brucellosis from cattle. Montana remains brucellosis-free, but in the last 2 years Idaho and Wyoming have both dealt with the loss of their brucellosis-free status. As a result, livestock producers in Wyoming and Idaho have been
subject to additional time-consuming and costly measures when they ship cattle from their states. Recently Wyoming regained its status, but even as Idaho works to do the same, no clear plan exists to prevent a recurring situation, and it may be simply a matter of time before Montana loses its status.
“I will continue to work with the livestock industry, conservationists, and the federal agencies that bear responsibility for managing the Park – the last remaining reservoir of the brucellosis threat. We must provide real risk management for Montana’s cattle industry and manage bison and elk with the respect they deserve,” said Governor Schweitzer.
Over the past couple years Governor Schweitzer has offered his ideas for maintaining better separation between bison and the approximately 700 units of cattle near the Park in order to protect the status of the 2.5 million head of cattle throughout the rest of the state:
- Establishment of a small, specialized area near the Park where we would apply stricter management protocols for cattle—100% test in, 100% test out. In exchange, USDA-APHIS would agree that Montana would not lose its brucellosis-free status should two herds become infected inside that designated area.
- Negotiation of grazing leases with private landowners near the Park that compensate them for grazing only non-ruminant animals until brucellosis is eradicated—or even permanent purchase of grazing rights or other management agreements that landowners find reasonable. Whatever the mechanism, agreements would be voluntary, and the federal government would need to provide fair-plus compensation.
- Funding of further research into a more effective brucellosis vaccine, and into more effective vaccine delivery methods.