Montana looking for Brucellosis Task Force members

DOL – Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the Montana Department of Livestock are looking for ranchers and wildlife enthusiasts to serve on a task force designed to develop solutions to the spread of brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

The seven-member task force will make science-based recommendations on wildlife and livestock management in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA) to reduce the risk of transmission of the disease.

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that causes abortions in cattle and wild ungulates like bison and elk, and undulant fever in humans. The livestock industry has spent millions of dollars to eliminate brucellosis in cattle in the United States. The last remaining reservoir of brucellosis in the nation is wild ungulates in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

Recent outbreaks of brucellosis in two cattle herds in Montana, which most likely came from wild elk, have caused the state to lose its brucellosis class free status. This will have a significant financial impact on livestock producers across the state.

In a letter this week calling for nominations to the task force, FWP Director Jeff Hagener and DOL Executive Officer Christian Mackay said that brucellosis in the GYA is not a wildlife or livestock problem but rather a disease problem that affects both wildlife and livestock. Reducing the risk of transmission of brucellosis within and between elk and livestock would benefit both wildlife and livestock interests, they said.

The new taskforce will be co-chaired by State Veterinarian Marty Zaluski and a wildlife professional from FWP. The remaining members will include:

* A rancher operating within the GYA.
* A rancher operating outside of the GYA.
* A wildlife enthusiast, sportsman or conservationist living within the GYA.
* A wildlife enthusiast, sportsman or conservationist living outside of the GYA.
* One rancher/outfitter.

For those interested in serving on the task force, applications are available online at the FWP web site at http://fwp.mt.gov and MDOL’s web site at http://liv.mt.gov/. The deadline for applications is October 15. Applications are being accepted at both the FWP and DOL directors’ offices.

Task force meetings will begin as soon as possible after members are appointed. All of the meetings will be announced in advanced and open to the public. A draft charter for the group calls for consensus recommendations to government agencies, private individuals or non-government organizations by December 31, 2009. Issues without consensus solutions will be presented as both majority and minority reports

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