County to consider bovine TB resolution

The state would be asked to provide a "significant reduction of free-ranging white-tail deer and elk" that could be the cause of bovine tuberculosis in cattle, under a resolution to be considered Tuesday by the Beltrami County Board.

The state would be asked to provide a "significant reduction of free-ranging white-tail deer and elk" that could be the cause of bovine tuberculosis in cattle, under a resolution to be considered Tuesday by the Beltrami County Board.

The resolution, approved last week by the Roseau County Board, was forwarded to Beltrami County in the hopes of presenting a unified front. The matter is part of the Beltrami County Board regular agenda when it meets 5 p.m. Tuesday at the County Administration Building, 701 Minnesota Ave.

The state Board of Animal Health announced Feb. 19 that cattle from a Beltrami County cattle operation tested positive for bovine TB, the 11th beef herd in Minnesota to have bovine TB detected.

The discovery of the latest herd resulted in downgrading Minnesota's TB status to Modified Accredited, the third of five categories. It means state producers will have to adhere to stricter federal and state testing requirements when shipping cattle or bison. A Modified Accredited status may also require surveillance testing of dairy herds that sell milk.

All 11 of the bovine TB-positive herds are in Beltrami and Roseau counties.


"A comprehensive and timely response to this infectious disease is important," County Administrator Tony Murphy says in a memo to commissioners. "Roseau County commissioners have adopted a resolution on the issue and have encouraged the Beltrami County Board to consider the passage of a similar resolution."

The resolution notes that a 2002 study show cow/calf business contributes $40 million to the local economy in a nine-county northern Minnesota area, and that since bovine TB was first discovered in 2005, "limited progress has been made to successfully implement a strategy to effectively deal with the problem," especially in reducing the deer population in the core bovine TB area.

"The communication and public relations between the (DNR) and the concerned parties has been deficient at best and unacceptable at worst," it said.

The resolution asks that there be:

E A significant reduction of free-ranging white-tail deer and elk in the core area.

E Continued testing of white-tail deer and elk in the bovine TB-managed zones.

E A single point of contact and decision making in the DNR to efficiently facilitate communication, public relations and solutions.

E Engage the Departments of Health, Homeland Security and Emergency Management with the management of the transmission and spread of the infectious disease.


E Implement an accelerated timeline for the elimination of bovine TB in both livestock and white-tail deer populations.

Exposure to bovine tuberculosis through the milk or meat supply is extremely unlikely, according to the Board of Animal Health. Meat inspectors check all cattle entering the marketplace for signs of the disease before and after slaughter. Any animal showing the signs is withheld from the food supply. In addition, adequate cooking destroys the bacteria. Further, the milk pasteurization process at processing plants destroys any potential bacteria.

The state board is considering splitting the state into two zones, with the stricter MA class affecting northern Minnesota and a less strict standard for the rest of the state which has been bovine TB-free.

"I am working with the Board of Animal Health to determine how small of an area we can draw around the infected area that would be subject to the stricter testing," Sen. Rod Skoe, DFL-Clearbrook, said recently. "A plan is being developed that would buy out all of the herds in the infected area and keep new cattle out until we can eradicate the disease from the deer population."

The 2007 Legislature appropriated $811,000 for bovine TB eradication and surveillance, he said, and also granted authority to the Board of Animal Health to provide indemnity for cattle destroyed because of bovine TB.

"The hope is to minimize as many impacts on the industry as possible by keeping the split area small and regaining bovine TB-free accreditation as quickly as possible," Skoe said. "These new positive tests in cattle push the timeline out further. In order to be re-accredited TB-free, we have to eradicate the disease in cattle and in the deer population."

A number of meetings were held in the region in the last week to inform farmers and ranchers of the latest information and options.

Also on the County Board's regular agenda is a draft trail agreement between the county and the DNR that would grant the county permanent access to the county's demolition landfill in Bemidji Township.


Commissioners, at their 3 p.m. work session, will receive an update on county facility energy conservation initiatives, review the recently enacted state $6.6 billion transportation funding package as it affects county roads and bridges, receive a report on the Sentence to Serve jail diversion program, and receive the annual report and update from the Giziibii Resource Conservation & Development Association.

The board's regular meeting consent agenda includes county bills and warrant payment listing, approval of a capital asset depreciation schedule, approval of committee appointments and approval to fill a new full-time microcomputer specialist position.

Also, commissioners will be asked to approve sending an additional Sheriff's Department staffer to out-of-state computer systems training, approval of $5,000 in matching/challenge funds for a Rognlien Park fishing pier, and approval of a resolution for land conveyance of parcels to local units of government for low-income affordable housing.

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