Mar 2, 2011 8:02 AM by Bea Karnes
CHEYENNE, Wyo.-Concern about brucellosis is prompting Colorado to impose tougher identification requirements for cattle that have spent time in the Yellowstone region in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.
Nebraska is working on similar requirements and livestock officials said Tuesday they wouldn't be surprised if more states followed suit to keep out brucellosis.
"It's those states trying to protect their livestock industry and making sure that Wyoming doesn't send them any infected animals," Jim Schwartz, director of the Wyoming Livestock Board, told The Associated Press.
"I don't blame the states. They're just trying to protect their livestock, too."
The requirement comes just a few weeks after Wyoming lawmakers decided against implementing a statewide livestock identification program, something many Wyoming ranchers have resisted in recent years.
"What I've been told is we should sit back and wait until somebody imposes requirements on us. And here we are," State Veterinarian Jim Logan said. "Now we've got no program, we've got no funding, but now we have the mandate from other states."
Brucellosis spreads to cattle from wildlife and can cause cows to abort their calves. The disease has been persistent in the Yellowstone region, appearing recently in cattle in all three states.
They include cases in cattle and bison in northwest Wyoming in just the past few months.
Colorado's new rule goes into effect Sept. 1 and will require all sexually intact female cattle that have spent time near Yellowstone to carry a Colorado-approved ear tag.
The three states do a good job of testing for brucellosis in the Yellowstone region and putting affected herds in quarantine. But the states don't require tags that would identify cows that might have been in that area as calves, said Colorado State Veterinarian Keith Roehr.
"This is an issue that we have discussed with the state health officials as being a gap. Albeit very small, but nonetheless very important," Roehr said.
Nebraska has been preparing similar rules and has sent a draft proposal to livestock officials in the Yellowstone states. The proposal had a tentative implementation date of April 1.
Wyoming and Montana officials said that's not a lot of notice to get cattle ranchers up to speed on the new requirements.
"Ultimately the shorter lead time you have the more difficult it is to get ramped up for these kind of requirements," said Montana State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski.
Nebraska livestock officials declined to comment, saying the rules were still in the draft phase.