Friday, October 4, 2013

MT Department of Livestock & Livestock Association Brucellosis Statements

Below is a link to the EMWH webpage dealing with the Sept. 10th testimony that Montana's DoL, Dr. Marty Zaluski gave before the Texas Animal Health Commission concerning their brucellosis rule change on cattle imports from Montana, Idah and Wyoming, the 2 GYA states affected by the brucellosis issue. There are a number of statements that we dont normally hear here in Montana on this subject, from the DoL on brucellosis. When I requested the written public comments from TAHC, I received a 72 page pdf file which not only included Zaluski's 50 pages, but statements from the Montana Stockgrowers Association, Montana Cattlemen's Association, some Montana ranchers. The pdf file is broken up by submitter for easier viewing. Also available are the audio files of the testimony. I really hate transcribing, so I have only done the main testimony from Dr. Marty Zalusky, not all the questions and his answers that followed yet. Mr. Palmers testimony on audio file 10 is also pertinent.

DoL, "Montana's DSA includes 282 operations with 73,200 cattle and domestic bison. This fiscal year, 42,025 of the 73,200 animals have been tested to achieve a 99% confidence that the disease (if it exists) is present at a rate of less that 0.008%. The chance that any one Montana animal is brucellosis positive is 0.00024%." "In comparison, the state of Montana has an annual infection rate of 0.007% with five affected herds over six years since 2007." "There is no documented case of bulls spreading brucellosis." "So what happens is you have cattle properties that are typically on the flats, the river bottoms and the prairies, and then you have the elk ground that is alot of time in the forest. So its not like those elk are on private property typically, and in fact often times those elk are on BLM or Forest Service land," "So there are practices, its not like they come down on the flats, then spread out five fetuses and they take off."
Heres a really good one - no mention of bison, "So really the DSA in the state of Montana is in southwest Montana. And it is designed to identify the cattle at risk from brucellosis positive elk. So we know that brucellosis positive elk are in southwest Montana, they can potentially expose cattle and so the key to identifying the cattle at risk is to identify where the brucellosis positive elk are."

MSA, "There is an extremely low risk of brucellosis transfer posed by cattle coming out of Montana. While a small area of Montana in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) is affected by rare transfers of brucellosis from wildlife, the state of Montana has proven highly effective in its efforts to mitigate the spread of brucellosis."
Mr. Palmers testimony (audio file 10) on behalf of the Matador Cattle Company (Koch Industries), the owner of the Beaverhead Ranch in southwestern Montana, discussing how little of an issue this is, "the majority of those times those elk are not calving in the same location as the cows."
Darrel Stevenson, Stevenson Angus Ranch, "As you can see the rate of incidence is extraordinarily low and our policing system has proven to manage with superb efficiency....Why isnt the science trusted? As reviewed in the attached, incident rate in Montana is low and imported cattle to Texas become even lower with a pre-shipment test? With no documented case of bulls spreading Brucellosis, why are they bundled into the concern?"

I would like to ask this same question of the DoL who shot the lone bull bison on the Dome Mountain WMA after hazing it off the Dome Mountain Ranch (private property rights ignored) and shooting the 2 bull bison on the west side. DoL knows that bulls dont spread brucellosis, nor the bison to cattle, which is why he only addresses elk in his presentation. And based on the science and stats presented by Zaluski, as well as the statements from the associations and ranchers, brucellosis from elk is extremely low, extraordinarily low and easily manageable, mitigated. So why in Montana do they inflame the dialogue on this issue and we dont hear this kind of testimony and science?

I think it is time that we put wildlife management back into the hands of the FWP as far as bison are concerned and keep it there as far as the elk are concerned. Remove "eradication/elimination of brucellosis from wildlife reservoirs" from our Fish, Wildlife and Parks documents/statements, such as that which FWP is signed onto in the IBMP; support natural regulation of these wildlife in the Gallatin National Forest and the Yellowstone National Park, as it should be (their signatures should not be on the IBMP eradication/elimination of brucellosis either). Brucellosis is a minimal disease threat to the cattle industry (more cattle are killed by weather or vehicular accidents each year than years of extremely low brucellosis transmission from elk), which can be managed through the DoL herd plans that Zaluski describes, as well as efforts from FWP in minimizing possible transmission of brucellosis through approved Elk Working Group measures such as encouraging security and forage on public lands and hazing from private. 

Kathryn QannaYahu