Indiana looks to contain bovine TB
CORYDON, Ind. (AP) - State wildlife officials will test white-tail deer in southern Indiana for bovine tuberculosis, a chronic bacterial disease that has been confirmed in four red deer in a Harrison County fenced hunting farm.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources hopes to gather 300 heads from Harrison County deer on Nov. 14-15, the opening of the season for hunting deer with firearms. Biologists hope to track and contain any potential spreading of TB, which can spread among wild animals and infect livestock.
Officials will use the deer heads to check lymph nodes to determine whether the disease has spread to the local wild deer population, biologist Chad
Stewart said. State game biologists and conservation agents have also checked possums and other animals.
“We don’t have TB in the wild,” veterinarian James Hollis said. “We have no evidence that we do.”
Four deer at the hunting farm tested positive for bovine TB in the spring, and officials say that operation was quarantined.
The DNR and the Indiana Board of Animal Health met this week with about 80 local hunters and farmers with cows and swine to discuss the issue.
Andrew Eschbacher, a Laconia cattle farmer, said he thinks he has little to fear about threats to his family’s livestock.
“Now that I’ve heard this, I feel better,” Eschbacher said after the meeting.
But John Goss, executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation, a group that has opposed fenced hunting, asked officials why they decided against euthanizing all the animals at the Harrison farm, as was done at two other locations where the disease was found.
Officials said there was no indication the TB had spread beyond the four deer, which officials said had been shipped in from a Franklin County farm.
“It’s still a calculated risk,” Goss said.
A beef cow in Franklin County tested positive for TB in December, launching the investigation by Indi ana wildlife and animal officials. Other cattle at that farm were tested and determined to be free of the disease, but several animals at a nearby deer and elk farm were found to have TB. That farm sold the infected deer to the Harrison County business and to a Wayne County farm. All the animals at the farms in Franklin and Wayne counties were euthanized as precautions, Hollis said.
The disease causes fever, lethargy, weaknesses and pneumonia.