OTTAWA — The federal government has officially lifted the quarantine order for all farms under the bovine tuberculosis investigation which began in 2016.
Agriculture and Agrifood Minister Lawrence MacAulay announced Monday the government has removed the last of the quarantines for cattle farms in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, noting no additional cases of the disease have been detected.
“The cooperation of individual producers and their industry associations played a key role in the progress of the investigation and this has allowed Canada to retain its bovine TB free status with no disruption in access to international markets,” said MacAulay in a statement.
The agency was testing 71 trace-in herds, which sent animals to the initial infected herd near Jenner within the last five years, before Christmas.
Bovine tuberculosis was discovered in a Jenner Ranch in 2016. Six animals were found with the disease throughout the investigation, all originating from the Jenner ranch.
More than 50,000 animals were tested during the investigation, and there is no indication the illness has spread. CFIA area chief inspector Dr. Rick James-Davies said it’s unlikely they’ll ever be able to pinpoint exactly where the cattle contracted the disease.
“It's not uncommon, or not surprising at all in an investigation like this, to never actually find that smoking gun and be able to say here is exactly where it came from,” James-Davies explained. “Around the world, that's fairly common in countries that have worked for decades to get rid of [bovine] TB.”
The federal government has paid $39 million in compensation to producers for animals that were ordered destroyed. Additionally, a Canada-Alberta program allocated up to $16.7 million for assistance for extraordinary quarantine costs.
Brad Osadczuk was the rancher who owned the infected herd. He said affected ranchers had several meetings to discuss compensation. He believes the payout from the government was fair and said it’s allowed himself and others to get their operations back up and running.
“Nothing is going to replace those cattle, we spent decades building these herds,” Osadczuk said. “But, we didn't go broke because of it. So yes, we were treated very fairly and it's allowed everybody to get back to where they were, I hope.”
Those producers who have repopulated their cattle operations have gone through an initial round of testing for bovine TB on their new herds. A second round of non-lethal tests will be carried out in the fall to ensure they are free and clear of the disease.
The CFIA is also monitoring the elk population in the area for bovine TB. The organization says any animals taken off the CFB Suffield base during the elk hunt have been tested for it. Officals said there was no evidence of the disease in any of those animals in the 2016-2017 hunting season.
According to the CFIA Potential for infection in wild populations is considered a low risk, but it will continue monitoring for the disease for next two to three years.
The investigation still won’t be declared over until a final report is issued in the spring.
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