HB 478 An Unwise Choice- Loosening the transfer laws of diseased bison

All 50 of the United States are considered to have a  Brucellosis Free status.  Montana, Idaho and Wyoming are allowed that status due to the Designated Surveillance Area (DSE) where vaccination of livestock and extensive monitoring of the disease in livestock and wildlife is carried out.   The Montana, Idaho, Wyoming DSA is the last reservoir of Brucellosis  in the United States. 

Screenshot (118)
Monthly Maps and Reports can be found on the USDA APHIS website.  bit.ly/APHISmap

USDA APHIS has the authority to bestow the Brucellosis Free status and to remove or lower that status.  The Brucellosis status of a Montana greatly affects what other states and countries will  allow livestock from Montana into their state and what sort of testing or quarantine will be required.

Much of the regulation of the DSA is based on the requirements put on the three states by USDA APHIS.

§78.40   Designation of States/areas.

The Administrator may amend §§78.41 and 78.42 to reclassify States and areas as Class Free, Class A, Class B, Class C, or quarantined when the Administrator determines that the States or areas meet the appropriate definitions in §78.1. The Administrator may approve the division of a State into two brucellosis classification areas upon finding that: (a) The State has legislative and regulatory authority for maintaining separate areas; (b) The State has committed resources to enforcing the different requirements in each area; (c) The State has an effective method for monitoring and controlling movement of cattle across the intrastate boundary; (d) The State has defined the intrastate boundary by county lines or by recognizable geographic features, such as rivers and highways; and (e) Each area of the State meets the standards for the brucellosis classification requested. The Administrator may amend §78.43 to reclassify States as validated brucellosis-free States or remove such status when the Administrator determines that such States meet or do not meet the standards of a validated brucellosis-free State as defined in §78.1. In the case of any reclassification to a lower class, reclassification as a quarantined State or area, or removal of validated brucellosis-free status, the State animal health official of the State involved will be notified of such reclassification or removal, and will be given an opportunity to present objections and arguments to the Administrator prior to the reclassification or removal taking place.    (Full text can be found at bit.ly/CFRbrucellosis )

While ranchers can respect the the Native Americans wish to conserves Yellowstone Bison and to grow the tribal herds, ranchers also ask that there not be a loosening of the regulations that continue to contain the Brucellosis to the DSA or risk allowing other diseases into the state from national parks or preserves.


Moving diseased bison across the state out of the DSA whether to a tribe or other entity for quarantine increases the risk of transmission and could cause other states and countries to not have confidence in our Brucellosis Free status.

Gardiner to Ft Peck Canva

While Fort Peck is the only reservation at this time with a quarantine facility, HB 478 does not limit the movement of the Yellowstone or other bison not certified brucellosis free to only them.  It allows for other tribes to build quarantine facilities.  It would be possible in the future for each tribe to have their own facility.

NEW SECTION. Section 4. Notification to tribal governments. The secretary of state shall send a
22 copy of [this act] to each tribal government located on the seven Montana reservations and to the Little Shell
23 Chippewa tribe.
25 NEW SECTION. Section 5. Effective date. [This act] is effective on passage and approval.

If we allow bison from other national parks or preserves to enter the state to go to reservations without our state veterinarian verifying a health permit or certificate, we the rancher lose confidence in our states management of diseases.


HB 478 allow transfer without health permit

“(7) A Except as provided in subsection (8), a waiver of the requirement for a health certificate or a permit
24 must be based upon evidence that there will be no significant danger to the public health if the exemption is
25 granted.
26 (8) A permit or health certificate is not required for wild buffalo or wild bison coming into the state to an
27 Indian reservation if those wild buffalo or wild bison originate from a national park or preserve unless the
28 department can show by clear and convincing evidence the animal is a significant danger to the public health.”

Please send your concerns to the House Agriculture Committee prior to the hearing on Thursday, March 21.  Hearings sometimes get canceled or rescheduled so you may want to check if you plan on traveling to Helena to testify at the hearing.


Hearing on HB 478 Thursday March 21.png



National Brucellosis Eradication Program canva slide

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