Montana Department of Livestock investigates TB in S.D. herd

Helena, Mont. – The Department of Livestock (DOL) is investigating ties to Montana cattle from a tuberculosis (TB) infected herd in South Dakota. Montana is focusing on three distinct groups of animals:  Contact herds – herds that have shared pasture or fence line contact with the affected herd; Herds that have supplied animals to the affected herd; and Herds that have received animals from the affected herd.

At this time, two Montana cattle herds that had contact with the South Dakota positive animals must undergo a tuberculosis test to confirm that the disease has not spread. Additional herds may be identified as the investigation progresses. The likelihood that Montana herds are infected is extremely low, however, the department is conducting a thorough investigation.

“Following up on interstate movements after a detection of TB or other animal disease is a routine part of disease investigations,” said Tahnee Szymanski, Assistant State Veterinarian. “Our strong working relationship with South Dakota is critical in promptly identifying animal movements and protecting the state of Montana.”

Bovine TB is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium bovis. The disease causes granulomatous lesions inside the lymph nodes, lungs, liver, spleen, and skin of affected animals. The primary route of spread is aerosol transmission to other animals in close contact. The bacteria is also capable of infecting wildlife, such as deer, and people. The disease has an incubation period that can range from months to years and infected animals may show no clinical signs until later stages of infection, meaning healthy appearing cattle may be infected with the bacteria.

Although TB is a zoonotic disease capable of infecting people, it is not a food safety threat, thanks to a robust meat inspection program and the pasteurization of milk for retail sale.

The mission of the DOL is to control and eradicate animal diseases, prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans, and to protect the livestock industry from theft and predatory animals. For more information on the department, visit

Department of Livestock Keeps Watchful Eye on Canadian Tuberculosis Cases

The Montana Department of Livestock (DOL) is actively monitoring the bovine tuberculosis (TB) investigation in Canada. In late September, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) initiated an epidemiological investigation after bovine TB was detected in a Canadian cow at a United States (US) slaughter facility.

As of December 2, 2016, there are six confirmed cases of bovine TB in Canada, including the index animal detected at slaughter in the US. Of the roughly 40 premises currently under quarantine, most are located in Southeast Alberta with about five premises in Saskatchewan. DOL has long standing requirements that cattle coming from Canada need to be tested for TB prior to import.

“Despite what feels like close proximity of this incident, Montana cattle producers remain safe,” said Montana State Veterinarian, Marty Zaluski. “Canada’s vigorous response, combined with our requirement that Canadian cattle be TB tested before entering Montana, keeps the risk low for ranchers in the state.”

Zaluski is not planning to place additional requirements on Canadian cattle coming to Montana at this time. “I am closely monitoring CFIA’s efforts and am ready to act aggressively if needed,” said Zaluski.

Historically, DOL has recognized the efforts of other state and provincial animal health officials to effectively deal with disease events, and expects the same in return.

CFIA policy requires that all positive animals and any animals exposed to positive animals be humanely destroyed. All exposed animals will be tested first and those that test negative will be eligible to enter the food supply. At this time approximately 10,000 cattle are to be destroyed. The strain of TB identified in the index case closely resembles a strain associated with cattle in Central Mexico, suggesting that wildlife are an unlikely source.

The mission of the DOL is to control and eradicate animal diseases, prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans, and to protect the livestock industry from theft and predatory animals. For more information on the department, visit

MSGA has been closely monitoring the recent TB outbreak in Canada. We have corresponded with State Veterinarian, Dr. Martin Zaluski, DVM and the Montana Congressional Delegation in D.C.. We are feeling confident at this time, that Canada’s aggressive response to the outbreak is the right approach and that Montana’s cattle herd should not be impacted.  

MSGA continues to oppose Bison Expansion | concerns left unaddressed

Governor’s bison plan OK’d; will reduce hazing near Yellowstone

Source: Bozeman Daily Chronicle

WEST YELLOWSTONE — State, federal and tribal agencies agreed on Wednesday to adopt the governor’s plan to allow some bison to stay in Montana year-round, a move officials say will reduce bison hazing done each year near West Yellowstone.

The change will let a certain number of bison stay year-round on Horse Butte near West Yellowstone and north to the Buck Creek drainage, located just south of Big Sky, without being chased back into Yellowstone National Park. The decision also calls for year-round tolerance for male bison north of Gardiner into Yankee Jim Canyon.

At an Interagency Bison Management Plan meeting here, none of the tribal or federal agencies objected to the governor’s December decision, meaning the plan has essentially been approved.

“This a day to be celebrated,” said Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks regional supervisor Sam Sheppard.

The change comes as an amendment to the 2000 Interagency Bison Management Plan, which specifies procedures and population goals for the nearly 5,000 bison that live in the Yellowstone region.

Some tolerance for the animals had already existed outside of the park, but the governor’s decision adds significantly more land to the tolerance zone on the west side, where bison had been hazed back each year.

The decision sets seasonal limits on the number of bison allowed to remain west of the park — 450 from September through February, 600 from March through June, 250 in July and August. When bison numbers exceed that, the state could chase them back across into Yellowstone.

Those figures reflect the number of bison officials expect to see outside of the park in each season. They expect many of the bison that come out in the spring will migrate back into Yellowstone on their own before July, meaning they wouldn’t need to be hazed. Sheppard said the decision “allows bison to do the work for us.”

The decision doesn’t eliminate hazing. Bison still won’t be allowed near the South Fork of the Madison River, so after May 15 they will be chased to either the tolerance zone border or the park border, whichever is closer.

Hazing would still happen on the north side of Yellowstone each year, starting May 1. The decision only allows male bison to roam north to Yankee Jim Canyon year-round, not females.

Female bison raise concerns for livestock producers during the spring calving season because of the disease brucellosis, which can cause cattle to miscarry. The disease is transmitted through afterbirth, and more than half of Yellowstone’s female bison are believed to have been exposed to it. No case of bison transmitting the disease in the wild has been documented.

Still, hazing is one way the IBMP tries to eliminate the risk of disease transmission.

Montana Department of Livestock state veterinarian Marty Zaluski said if there is a mixed group of male and female bison that are in that area, officials won’t attempt to sort the male bison out.

“If there’s a mixed group, then that group will go back,” Zaluski said.

“We’re not in the business of sorting bison,” added Rob Tierney, bison program manager for the Department of Livestock.

Sheppard said that by that time, most bison have usually left the Gardiner Basin for lands inside the park anyway.

Tom MacDonald, fish and wildlife division manager of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, said the plan to expand tolerance was a “logical step forward in managing bison.”

Environmental groups and buffalo advocates were pleased with the partner agencies giving the plan a thumbs up Wednesday. During the public comment portion of the meeting, representatives of a few groups thanked the IBMP partner agencies. But it isn’t the end of the fight for them.

“We hope this decision drives further advancements for Yellowstone bison, which unfortunately continue to be shipped to slaughter when they leave the park in search of food in the winter,” Stephanie Adams of the National Parks Conservation Association said in a statement.

On the other side, Jay Bodner, natural resource director for the Montana Stockgrowers Association, said his group still opposes the governor’s decision. He said they worry that budgets for FWP and the Department of Livestock will be stressed by increasing how much land bison can use since it might require more on-the-ground work. He is also concerned that government officials will ask for even more tolerance in Montana, rather than reducing the number of bison in the region.

“I don’t think our concerns have been addressed,” Bodner said in an interview.

The agencies involved are currently working on a new Interagency Bison Management Plan, and a draft is expected out sometime this year.

Over the next few days, the current plan will be amended to include the governor’s proposals. Each agency involved is expected to formally sign off on the changes later this month, after which the document will be posted online.

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