The Montana Board of Livestock is taking public comments on a proposal to adjust boundaries and implement new animal identification standards for cattle within the state’s Designated Surveillance Area, which is a disease management area intended to reduce the risk of brucellosis transmission from wildlife to domestic livestock.

The area includes parts of Beaverhead, Gallatin, Madison and Park counties nearest to the nation’s last known remaining reservoir of bovine brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area. Reducing the risk of transmission is meant to protect the state’s ability to market cattle to other states.

“Other states, specifically destination states for Montana cattle such as Nebraska, South Dakota and Colorado, have been implementing stricter import requirements for Montana cattle due to the potential of livestock exposure to brucellosis-infected wildlife in a small portion of the state,” said Eric Liska, the state’s staff brucellosis veterinarian. “They understandably want to make sure they do not import disease into their respective states, and they want to be assured that we’re doing everything we can to mitigate that risk.”

The first measure, which involves adjusting the surveillance area’s boundary in a small portion of Beaverhead and Madison counties, was necessitated by a recent Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks study that found brucellosis-exposed elk in the Ruby Range where such elk were previously not known to exist, , according to DOL agency officials. Twelve of 100 elk in the trap-and-test study tested positive for the exposure to the disease.

 “Having to adjust the DSA boundaries is frustrating, but it’s in the best interests of everyone involved,” Liska said.

The second proposal, regarding animal identification, would change the existing rule from “All sexually intact cattle 12 months of age and older within the DSA must be identified with official individual identification” to “All sexually intact cattle and domestic bison leaving the DSA must be identified with official individual identification.”

The animal identification requirement is intended to protect the state’s ability to market cattle to destination states and improve traceability of animals for disease purposes. Several states have implemented stricter identification requirements for importation of cattle from within the DSA.

Electronic copies of the proposal notice and proposal are available on the department’s website at liv.mt.gov or the Secretary of State’s web site at http://sos.mt.gov/ARM/Register">http://sos.mt.gov/ARM/Register.

The comment period runs from June 23 through 5 p.m. July 25. Persons wishing to comment  may do so in writing to Christian Mackay, 301 N. Roberts St., Room 308, P.O. Box 202001, Helena, MT 59620-2001, by faxing to 444-1929, or by emailing cmackay@mt.gov.

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