Brucellosis Action Plan to take effect May 15; testing may be required in seven counties

MDOL – The Montana Department of Livestock (MDOL) today announced it expects its Brucellosis Action Plan to be implemented by May 15. Designed to support the marketability of Montana cattle and enhance the state’s prospects for regaining brucellosis-free status, the plan will primarily affect livestock producers in a seven-county area surrounding Yellowstone National Park.

“Starting on May 15, producers in the seven counties around Yellowstone Park may be required to test their cattle for brucellosis, and those producers who want to sell or move cattle to a county outside that area will be required to test,” said Dr. Marty Zaluski, state veterinarian.

Zaluski emphasized that the state Legislature approved funding to support costs of the action plan, which will help offset the burden on producers. The seven counties designated for increased surveillance by the Brucellosis Action Plan (BAP), identified in the plan as “Area 1,” are Beaverhead, Carbon, Gallatin, Madison, Park, Stillwater and Sweetgrass counties.

The BAP will require producers in Area 1 to complete a risk survey that the department will use to prioritize testing requirements, Zaluski explained. He said the department will then follow up with a letter to each producer to clarify his or her specific testing requirements. In addition, he said the plan will require testing of all cattle 12 months of age and older going to market or sold to another producer, and cattle moving to a county outside the targeted area.

“We want to assure both in-state and out-of-state cattle buyers, along with officials from other states, that we are doing all we can to reduce the risks of brucellosis,” Zaluski said. “These extra testing requirements are an important part of our strategy to preserve the marketability of Montana cattle as we work to regain our brucellosis-free status.”

The tests will be evaluated at the department’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, typically with a one-day turn-around time, he said. The seven counties were identified as increased-risk because the only known source of brucellosis comes from Yellowstone National Park’s bison and free-ranging elk in the Greater Yellowstone Area.

The BAP will remain in effect for six months after Montana regains its brucellosis-free status, Zaluski said. The department plans to apply for Class Free status on May 27, and hopes for a favorable decision from USDA on its application soon thereafter.

More information about the BAP, including answers to “Frequently Asked Questions,” is available at the agency’s website at http://mt.gov/liv/.

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