Negative Tests! Some Good (Finally) Montana Brucellosis News
With a sampling this size, here's hoping it is a very good sign for a popular Montana wildlife species.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has been involved in a multi-year "Targeted Elk Brucellosis Surveillance Project." The elk just tested were captured last month in the Pioneer Mountains northwest of Dillon.
With guarded optimism, Montana FWP tells us that 149 blood samples were collected from captured elk, and all tested negative for brucellosis. Also, 30 of the captured and tested elk were outfitted with GPS collars that will be active for one year. Wildlife managers hope to better understand the elks' seasonal ranges, migration routes and potential mixing with other elk herds.
FWP is taking these measures to evaluate the presence of brucellosis and how it might relate to its movement in Montana’s elk populations. The research should also help officials understand the overlap between elk and livestock. Ah, yes, livestock.
It doesn't seem like that many years ago that about the only brucellosis concern in Montana among wildlife officials and ranchers was bison leaving Yellowstone National Park and infecting cattle with the disease, causing them to abort their newborn. But there is now more awareness about the spread.
Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that can infect not only cattle, bison and elk, but humans as well. The disease is primarily transmitted through contact with infected birth tissues and fluids. The Montana Department of Livestock also administers a brucellosis surveillance program for livestock in an area of southwest Montana.
More information on Montana's elk management can be found here. And here's hoping the negative tests just keep on keeping on!
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