Brucellosis DSA map
This map, provided by the Montana Department of Livestock, shows the department’s “Designated Surveillance Area” (dark gray) and “Brucellosis Action Plan” area (light gray). The Gallatin Valley is outside the DSA, which means cattle producers in the area will have fewer restrictions than those in the BAP area.

Montana Department of Livestock officials are coming to the Gallatin Valley next month to discuss a housekeeping procedure that will make official an order addressing brucellosis surveillance.

When the state regained its brucellosis-free status in July 2009, livestock officials kept a Brucellosis Action Plan in place for six months, according to state records. At that time, the plan called for extra surveillance of cattle herds, along with risk assessments, testing and certain restrictions on cattle movements in a 7-county target area of southern and southwest Montana.

In January, the agency retooled the boundary and coined a new name, the Designated Surveillance Area, according to state records. The DSA applies to the southern portions of Beaverhead, Madison, Gallatin and Park counties.

The new plan was made part of an official order whose goal iss to combat brucellosis in areas around Yellowstone National Park, Department of Livestock spokesman Steve Merritt said.

In order to codify the order, the agency has to adhere to state law, Merritt said.

“The rule change is basically setting the official order into administrative rule,” he said, adding that the effort has been confusing. Hence, the meetings.

“There’s been a lot of confusion over this. Anytime you put something in administrative rule, you have to go through the administrative rule process and that requires public meetings and a public comment period.”

In a nutshell, nothing will change in the process, Merritt said.

“It’s the same content; we’re just proposing putting it from official order to administrative rule,” he said.

The rule calls for testing yearling animals or older, sexually intact cattle, according to the order. The rule also mandates whole-herd brucellosis testing of sexually intact animals within 30 days of movement out of the area or when cattle ownership changes.

Exceptions to the rule include the following.

n Steers and spayed heifers don’t need to be tested.

n Animals moving to an approved market may be tested upon arrival.

n Testing completed after July 15 is accepted until Feb. 15 of the following year.

n Other variances or exceptions may be considered  on an individual basis by the state veterinarian.

The DOL will hold three public meetings in the area, Merritt said. The meetings are Nov. 9 at the Livingston Public Library; Nov. 10 at Headwaters Livestock Auction in Three Forks; and Nov. 23 at the Twin Bridges fairgrounds.

The rule will be posted at liv.mt.gov. Comments are due by Nov. 29 and can be submitted via e-mail at dsa-comments@mt.gov or by mail to DSA Comments, Montana Department of Livestock, Helena, MT 59620. Comments will also be accepted at the three meetings.