Mesa County Ranch Quarantined, Swine Desease Found
December 10, 2008
A Mesa County ranch has been quarantined by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the Colorado Department of Agriculture following the discovery of a serious and contagious disease that poses risks to wildlife and livestock.
The quarantine order follows the Nov. 17 seizure by state wildlife and agriculture officials of a livestock trailer containing 20 exotic sheep and 16 feral hogs as it was about to enter the Little Creek Ranch in Collbran. The exotic hogs are illegal to transport in Colorado and the driver did not possess required permits for importation or transportation of any of the animals.
Fourteen of the 16 hogs tested positive for pseudorabies, a disease that poses threats to livestock, wildlife and pets. All of the seized animals are being held by the state at a secure location.
Pseudorabies is a contagious viral disease of animals that primarily affects pigs. However, the disease is also a threat to domestic pets and to wildlife, such as raccoons, opossums, fox, skunks and small rodents, which can contract the disease by coming in contact with infected swine.
“This is the first case of pseudorabies discovered in feral hogs in Colorado and it’s important to stress that our livestock industry is not at risk,” said Dr. Keith Roehr, the Assistant State Veterinarian, “Our department is working quickly and cooperatively with the Division of Wildlife to ensure that this virus is not allowed to spread.”
Currently, all 50 states are considered free of the pseudorabies virus in commercial production swine herds. This detection in feral hogs does not jeopardize that status. Colorado and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have pseudorabies eradication programs in place. The Department of Agriculture, the Division of Wildlife and USDA Veterinary Services are working cooperatively on a timely response.
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The DOW quarantine order for the Little Creek Ranch specifies that no animals, alive or dead, may be removed from or enter the ranch until further notice. The Little Creek Ranch is a licensed DOW commercial wildlife park subject to strict rules for the importation of exotic wildlife species. Because the ranch’s wild boar hunting operation existed prior to state regulations banning importation or possession of wild boar and feral hogs, it was ‘grandfathered in’ with an exemption allowing for a limited number of wild boars on the property. Strict animal health and fencing requirements were dictated as part of the licensing process.
The quarantine orders also require veterinary inspection of all animals currently being held at the ranch. At this time, the investigation of the incident is continuing.
The establishment of feral hog populations has become a major concern for state wildlife agencies across the country. Packs of these hogs can devastate wildlife habitat by rooting up areas of ground and destroying native vegetation. Diseases from the wild hogs can also be passed to wildlife species, impacting populations and spreading throughout an area.
In Colorado, feral hogs have been confirmed in the southeastern part of the state. Feral hogs have also been killed by landowners and wildlife officers on the Grand Mesa, near Collbran.
In response, the Division of Wildlife and the Colorado Department of Agriculture have signed a memorandum of understanding to coordinate efforts to eradicate these populations.
The Division of Wildlife considers feral hogs to be an invasive pest. State wildlife regulations allow the killing of feral hogs at any time of year and without need of a hunting license.