FWP Distributes Tests to Gauge Brucellosis Rate

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has distributed about 8,000 blood sample kits to landowners, hunters, outfitters and guides near Yellowstone National Park in an effort to gauge the brucellosis infection rate of elk in the southwestern part of the state.

“We’re looking at the incidence and range of infection,” said Mel Frost, an FWP spokesman in Bozeman. “We’re looking geographically to see how far it occurs outside the endemic area, outside Yellowstone National Park.”

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that causes abortions in cattle, bison and elk. Recent outbreaks of the disease in two cattle herds in Montana, which most likely came from wild elk, have caused the state to lose its brucellosis class free status.

FWP recently held a meeting in Dillon to demonstrate how to properly obtain blood samples.

Funded in part by $60,000 from the state, the agency’s outreach to the Dillon area this year was made in hopes of expanding its sampling net.

“We want to see what happens in areas where we haven’t picked up the disease before,” said Ken Hamlin, a wildlife biologist for FWP. “Part of this is to expand out beyond the park to see if there’s any expansion to where we haven’t picked it up before.”

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