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Healthy Farms - Healthy Agriculture

Wildlife Biosecurity dairy cow photo by Louis Bedor III, link to home page

Wildlife Biosecurity

Where their paths cross, livestock can be exposed to disease-causing agents carried by wildlife. This may happen at a water source that livestock share with Canada geese or a feed manger that also happens to be home to a family of mice. These are just two examples of where contact and transfer of disease can take place. You need to be aware of the risks posed by wildlife. The three main areas targeted as wildlife biosecurity concerns are feed (particularly feed storage), water sources, and the living space for the herd.

Birds, rodents, coyotes, pet dogs and cats, insects such as mosquitoes, and deer can be carriers of diseases that affect other animals or humans. Deer carry a worm, Parelaphostrongylus tenuis, or P. tenuis, that can cause fatal meningitis in sheep, goats, or llamas. There are also emerging diseases that have been found in wildlife and may spread to livestock. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is being monitored for this potential. In addition, there are bacteria and other microbial pathogens that live on the farm that do not need wildlife as a host, but can easily be introduced to the herd by way of a contaminated water source. Intestinal diseases such as cryptosporidiosis, Johne's Disease, and campylobacteriosis can all be spread in this way.

Farm managers and maintenance personnel can reduce the risk of domestic animals' exposure to these and other harmful diseases. Periodic maintenance of feed storage areas, watering systems, and animal facilities will reduce wildlife biosecurity risks. The feed, water, and facilities maintenance checklists in the next section provide guidelines which can be incorporated into maintenance routines. Regular maintenance will ensure a low risk of exposure to wildlife or other disease vectors and optimize herd health and productivity.

If you have any questions or concerns about wildlife control on your farm, you can call the Rabies Hotline, 1-800-472-2437 (1-800-4-RABIES), the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, 802-241-3700, or the Vermont office of the USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, 802-223-8690. The Rabies Hotline is cooperatively supported by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets, the Vermont Department of Health, and USDA APHIS Wildlife Services. It was developed primarily to field reports of animals exhibiting unusual behavior or exposures to potentially rabid animals, but staff will direct calls on other topics to the appropriate agency or individual.

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Last modified October 06 2010 08:25 PM

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