Risk assessment and management of brucellosis in the southern greater Yellowstone area (I): A citizen-science based risk model for bovine brucellosis transmission from elk to cattle
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Livestock producers and state wildlife agencies have used multiple management strategies to control bovine brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone Area (GYA). However, spillover from elk to domestic bison and cattle herds continues to occur. Although knowledge is increasing about the location and behavior of elk in the SGYA, predicting spatiotemporal overlap between elk and cattle requires locations of livestock operations and observations of elk contact by producers. We queried all producers in a three-county area using a questionnaire designed to determine location of cattle and whether producers saw elk comingle with their animals. This information was used to parameterize a spatially-explicit risk model to estimate the number of elk expected to overlap with cattle during the brucellosis transmission risk period. Elk-cattle overlap was predicted in areas further from roads and forest boundaries in areas with wolf activity, with higher slopes, lower hunter densities, and where the cost-distance to feedgrounds was very low or very high. The model was used to estimate the expected number of years until a cattle reactor will be detected, under alternative management strategies. The model predicted cattle cases every 4.28 years in the highest risk herd unit, a higher prediction than the one case in 26 years we have observed. This difference likely indicates that ongoing management strategies are at least somewhat effective in preventing potential elk-cattle brucellosis transmission in these areas. Using this model, we can infer the expected effectiveness of various management strategies for reducing the risk of brucellosis spillover from elk to cattle.
author list (cited authors)
Kauffman, M., Peck, D., Scurlock, B., Logan, J., Robinson, T., Cook, W., Boroff, K., & Schumaker, B.