USDA APHIS Eradication of Brucellosis in Wildlife Agenda

Like setting up an intricate domino effect, the USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) and APHIS Veterinary Services (VS) has been on a mission, recently ramped up, of eradication of brucellosis in the United States, which includes the wildlife. The GYA wildlife, predominately elk and bison, have been the special targets for brucellosis eradication. APHIS & DoL are trying to get control of the elk as they have over bison, for test and slaughter.

The Timeline and Documents below are a foundational reference, in this very complicated and interwoven subject, which is linked to in a number of other pages. From 1934, with the start of the US brucellosis eradication program, USDA's objectives for eradication of brucellosis in livestock was a noble one. Brucellosis (9 different species) is a worldwide zoonotic disease, meaning it can spread to humans. Between the eradication of brucellosis in livestock and the pasturization of milk, the majority of animal to human transmissions have been curtailed. But, this livestock disease entered into wildlife, as livestock spread across the US. Coming west, it spread to the wildlife populations of the Yellowstone Natioanl Park, infecting our elk and bison populations, which had nearly become extinct. Primarily due to the unnatural congregating and feeding of wildlife on feed grounds in Wyoming, brucellosis seroprevalence has increased and spread to migratory wildlife herds in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA).

The brucellosis eradication agenda presents the questions to the public of eradicating brucellosis in wildlife - Why not eradicate brucellosis in wildlife? This will be addressed in detail soon, but the short answer is - the only way to eradicate brucellosis in wildlife is through a massive test and slaughter campaign of all the wildlife that can be hosts to this disease, which includes elk, bison, deer, and moose. We are talking about migratory wildlife, not penned in livestock. The reality is this is not only not feasible physically, but you would have to exterminate all known species of wildlife that can harbor the disease, in order to eradicate a livestock disease, which is worldwide. Then there is the massive manpower hours that would be necessary to come close to achieving this extermination goal and the astronomical cost to taxpayers to fund the extermination, which could not be achieved quickly, meaning that an extermination program would have to be committed to longterm to be of any affect. Scientific documentation states this is not an achievalble goal without extermination of so many species of wildlife, nor is it socially acceptable to do so. The reality is, the conditions of the livestock industry that created Brucella in the first place: unnatural congregations of animals, unnatural feeding practices of limited food sources, will simply provide Brucella a continued existence.

The best action for the livestock industry is for the manpower hours, resources and taxpayer dollars to fund a more effective vaccine for cattle, which currently is only 65% effective. With the mapping of the entire cattle genome and the entire Brucella abortus genome, all the tools are available for this to be done, IF, this was really about a small risk transmission between wildlife and cattle.


  • 1934 - beginnings of the US program for eradication / elimination of brucellosis.
  • 1972 - APHIS created by consolidating several USDA divisions.
  • 1985 - Congress transferred the Animal Damage Control (ADC) program from the U.S. Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to APHIS, where it was later renamed Wildlife Services (WS).
  • 1987 - International programs staff from PPQ (Plant Protection and Quarantine) and VS (Veterinary Services) were eventually combined to become the International Services (IS) program in APHIS.   Today, IS is responsible for facilitating international trade and promoting international safeguarding.
  • 1995 - Greater Yellowstone Interagency Brucellosis Committee was formed under a Memorandum of Understanding among the states of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, and the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the Interior. This group was charged to develop and implement a brucellosis management plan that would protect public interests along with the economic viability of the livestock industry while sustaining the free-ranging elk and bison populations. The committee was to plan for elimination of brucellosis in the area by the year 2010. - APHIS voting agency.
  • 1998 - APHIS original goal of eradication of brucellosis (not achieved).
  • 2000 - 2002 - Plant Protection Act and the Animal Health Protection Act consolidated the previous animal and plant health statutes, giving APHIS more control over pest and disease threats.
  • 2000 - Creation of the Interagency Bison Management Plan, IBMP (Montana) - APHIS voting agency.
  • 2008 - Montana loses Brucellosis Class Free Status. Brucellosis Action Plan Approved.
  • 2009 - Concept Paper for A New Direction For The Bovine Brucellosis Program
  • 2009 - USDA APHIS reinstates Montana's Brucellosis Class Free status.
  • 2010 - Designated Surveillance Area (DSA) created in Montana per Brucellosis Action Plan (BAP). The BAP sunsets. GYA State Brucellosis Management Plans (BMP) enacted, Interim Rule Brucellosis Class Free Status.
  • 2010 - New goal of eradication of brucellosis from the GYA through the Greater Yellowstone Interagency Brucellosis Committee (GYIBC) (not achieved) - APHIS voting member.


























APHIS Documents

  • USAHA (United States Animal Health Association) 2005 Brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area - "APHIS/VS agrees with the actions and steps included in this resolution. VS is providing resources for brucellosis surveillance and control activities. Eradication activities cannot occur until the other agencies agree on a disease eradication plan. To assure collaboration among the relevant agencies, VS is working and will continue to work with these agencies to develop MOU’s and agreements on a plan of action that includes eradication of brucellosis from the GYA. VS is willing and able to take the lead once a brucellosis eradication plan has been agreed to between the agencies."


  • A Concept Paper For A New Direction For the Bovine Brucellosis Program - APHIS VS 2009, "The goal of the program is to eradicate brucellosis from the United States." "Despite cooperative Federal-State-industry efforts to eradicate this disease and the significant progress we have made, final eradication will not become possible unless the country adopts new strategies to address current challenges. Eradication depends on finding the last remaining brucellosis-reactor animal, the last remaining brucellosis-affected herd, and eliminating the disease from wildlife reservoirs. All potential risks for exposure and transmission of brucellosis from infected wildlife populations must be mitigated and eliminated as well. Currently, the last known reservoir of disease is the wildlife populations in the GYA. A new direction is needed that will allow VS and States to apply limited resources effectively and efficiently to this unique disease risk."(pg. 2)


  • APHIS Strategic Plan FY 2010-2015, "Goal 4 - Develops control and eradication programs, with the assistance of State governments and industry participants, for invaseive pests and diseases that have become established. Works to eliminate brucellosis from the Nation's cattle population, changing its disease surveillance strategy from one that focuses on deisease detection and elimination at the State level to one that ensures the continued absence of disease in the domestic cattle population at the national level.


  • Code of Federal Regulations, Title 9: Animal and Animal Products, Part 78 - Brucellosis, "Brucellosis Management Plans - Any State in which the Administrator has determined wildlife are infected with B. abortus must develope and implement a brucellosis management plan approved by the Administrator...The State must sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Administrator that describes its brucellosis managment plan. The MOU must be updated annually.


  • Brucellosis Class Free States Interim Rule 2010 - "The creation of brucellosis management areas allow States that have found B. abortus in wildlife (which are nonregulated animals) to mitigate the risk of transmission and spread of disease while
    maintaining the State's disease-free status in regulated domestic livestock. The State must sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Administrator that describes its brucellosis management plan. The brucellosis management plan developed by the State must define the geographic brucellosis management area and describe the surveillance and mitigation activities that the State will conduct to identify occurrence of B. abortus in domestic livestock and wildlife and potential risks for spread of the disease." DSA (Designated Surveillance Area). MT DSA 2012 geographic map, MT FWP HD 2012 map


  • Brucellosis Class Free States Revisions 2011 - "As part of the process for developing and implementing a brucellosis management plan, the State must enter into an MOU with APHIS which describes the brucellosis management plan the State will adminster. The MOU is prepared by VS and State animal health and wildlife (as appropriate) officials and signed by all parties. The MOU must be updated annually." For Montana, this is APHIS, MTDOL and FWP.


  • Veterinary Services New Regulatory Direction 2011 - "A bovine brucellosis concept paper, published in the Federal Register in October 2009, proposed a new direction for the bovine brucellosis program, identified challenges in the current program, and provided an action plan to address these challenges." See Concept Paper above, which states, "The goal of the program is to eradicate brucellosis from the United States." In addition to "eliminating the disease from wildlife reservoirs."








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