CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Preliminary tests indicate 13 more cattle in a western Wyoming herd may be infected with brucellosis, dampening hopes the disease may be contained to a single herd.
“We still have very high hopes that we’ll maintain this to one herd and not lose our free status, but that’s probably just a prayer right now if you want the truth,” Jim Schwartz, director of the Wyoming Livestock Board, said Friday.
The state has conducted preliminary blood tests on 327 cattle belonging to a rancher near Daniel in Sublette County, assistant state veterinarian Jim Logan said.
Earlier, two cattle from the rancher’s separate purebred Angus herd were determined to have the disease, which can cause pregnant cows to abort their young.
The remaining 250 or so Angus cattle will be tested next week, Logan said. Once the entire herd is tested, the state will begin testing surrounding herds belonging to other ranchers.
While the state has confirmed the presence of brucellosis, the federal government was still conducting tests to make the confirmation official.
Wyoming is in danger of losing its brucellosis-free status if the disease is found in another herd or if the Daniel rancher declines to slaughter his entire herd.
Schwartz said the 15 total cattle with positive preliminary test results is “fairly high, but it’s not alarming.”
“It’s really a fairly clean herd but we do have more than just the two that were initially found,” he said.
He noted wild elk herds commonly have 30 percent infection rates and some bison herds have had up to 70 percent infection rates.
The cattle from the Daniel area herd have been quarantined.
Schwartz said the latest case of brucellosis infection has ranchers in western Wyoming concerned.
“There’s a lot of nervousness,” he said. “It’s going to have huge implications on our industry.”
If the state loses its brucellosis-free status, Wyoming would have to impose costly testing requirements for all cattle in the state that are sold or moved to another state.
Schwartz said the brucellosis issue adds to the frustration of many ranchers already dealing with wolf and grizzly bear issues.
“They kind of question why they stay in business,” he said.
Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup.
Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.