Province taking action on bovine tuberculosis

By Shannon Phillips, MLA for Lethbridge-West and Minister of Environment & Parks.

With the recently discovered case of bovine Tuberculosis (bTB) linked to a ranch in the Suffield area, landowners and hunters have expressed concerns that bTB may be present in elk and have the potential to infect cattle herds.

In the late 1990s when elk were introduced to CFB Suffield from Elk Island National Park, all animals were tested and found to be bTB-free.

While it is extremely rare for bTB to pass from domestic livestock to elk, this has occurred in Manitoba where bTB has been present for decades. Conversely, it is even rarer for bTB to be passed from elk to domestic livestock.

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), however, is taking a number of steps to address these concerns.

AEP Staff are conducting daily hunter briefings during the Suffield elk hunt. These briefings educate hunters on identifying possible bTB and how to minimize potential disease risks.

On Oct. 28, an email was sent to more than 1,600 hunters outlining AEP’s activities and where hunters can access current information on the bTB investigation.

On Nov. 9, AEP wildlife biologists and wildlife disease specialists attended CFB Suffield’s Friends and Neighbours event to discuss elk management and potential disease risks with landowners. A similar meeting addressing cattle producers’ concerns and questions on the interplay between elk and cattle has also been held.

AEP personnel will continue to remain onsite during the Suffield hunt to examine and seek further direction from CFIA if any suspicious lesions are found. AEP continues to work with Alberta Agriculture and CFIA to ensure the most up to date information is available to concerned landowners and hunters.

Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP), however, is taking a number of steps to address these concerns.

Information regarding bTB in relation to wildlife is available here: aep.alberta.ca. For more information contact the Medicine Hat Fish and Wildlife office at 403-529-3680.

Shannon Phillips

Minister of Environment and Parks

Minister Responsible for the Climate Change Office

Published in the Lethbridge Herald, Nov. 22, 2016.