Farmer Perceptions of Hay Yard Barrier Fence Effectiveness in Mitigating Bovine Tuberculosis Transmission Risk among Elk (Cervus canadensis), White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus virgianus), and Cattle (Bos taurus)

Posted on Dec 17, 2014

Author

Ryan K. BROOK

Correspondence: Department of Animal and Poultry Science & Indigenous Land Management Institute, College of Agriculture and Bioresources, University of Saskatchewan, 51 Campus Drive, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 5E2, Canada. Email: ryan.brook@usask.ca

Submitted 26 July 2014 – Accepted 17 December 2014


Abstract

Wildlife diseases such as bovine tuberculosis (TB) can be transmitted among wildlife directly through contact or indirectly via shared feeds; moreover diseases such as TB can also be transmitted between livestock and wildlife. Within the Riding Mountain TB Eradication Area (RMEA) in southwestern Manitoba, Canada, a federal-provincial program provides free 2.4-m-tall game wire barrier fences for stored hay bales with the objective of preventing disease transmission between cattle (Bos taurus) and wild cervids. I evaluated farmer perceptions of the effectiveness of the fences using a mail survey to all 1970 rural households (52% response rate) within the RMEA, and interviewing 50 farmers that had a game wire fence for >1 year. Half (52%) of mail survey respondents supported the idea of barrier fencing. The frequency of observing white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on farms (cumulative AICc weight = 0.80) was the best predictor of support. Level of concern regarding TB was second most important (cumulative AICc weight = 0.56). Of the barrier fence owners interviewed, 76% agreed that fences eliminated damage to hay bales on their farms. Furthermore, 63% agreed that their fence reduced the risk of their cattle getting bovine TB.  However, only 38% agreed that their fence eliminated cattle-cervid interaction. Despite some important successes, additional work is needed to address on-going cattle-white-tailed deer-elk (Cervus canadensis) interactions on many farms. Long-term monitoring of farmer satisfaction and compliance is needed to respond to inevitable changes in the mitigation program and evaluate success relative to objectives.

Key Words: Attitudes, Bovine Tuberculosis, Deer, Elk, Farmer, Fencing, Exclosure.

 

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