Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game has confirmed that an emaciated caribou that was found dead in Alaska on May 16th ultimately died from a bronchopneumonia; presence of Movi was also found in this caribou.
ADF&G also reported that healthy moose and caribou in Alaska have recently been found positive of mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (Movi).
“While this news is groundbreaking, this is not the time to have a knee jerk reaction” says Alaska Farm Bureau President Bryce Wrigley, “getting an accurate picture of Movi in wildlife is critical to understanding its impact.”
“These findings strengthen our belief that wildlife populations are not in immediate danger from our domestic animals. Current findings indicate this pathogen may be endemic in our wildlife and has likely been in these populations for many years,” continues Wrigley.
Originally thought to be a pathogen specific to sheep and goats and passed from domestic animals to wildlife, Movi is now being detected in additional wildlife species and in areas without domestic sheep or goats. There have also been confirmed positive tests for mule deer, white-tailed deer and bison in the lower 48.
Movi is a bacterium that has been linked to sporadic pneumonia outbreaks in bighorn sheep populations in the western United States. Other pathogens need to be present as well as other stressors like poor nutrition or extreme environmental conditions that weaken an animal’s immune system for Movi to have the ability to cause pneumonia.
The Alaska Farm Bureau, The Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Office of the State Veterinarian launched a pilot study in July 2017 to determine the prevalence of Movi in domestic sheep and goats as well as in Alaska wildlife.
According to the Department of Fish & Game, Movi has been confirmed in 13 of 136 Dall sheep, and in five of 39 mountain goats. Of the 230 moose and 243 caribou sampled for this recent study, 5 moose and 6 caribou tested positive for Movi.
Alaska Farm Bureau has appreciated the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Office of the State Veterinarian, Division of Agriculture and producers being willing to work together to get answers in order to form a plan to maintain healthy wildlife populations without putting unnecessary burdens on domestic sheep and goat owners.
“Had we rushed into a management strategy of putting costly regulations in place and eliminating any positive animals, we would have needlessly hurt our farmers and ranchers and received no benefit to our wildlife. The best science available is being used to sort this out and we trust that as the veterinarians gain a better picture of this organism, wise management plans will be implemented” says Wrigley.
About the Alaska Farm Bureau:
The Alaska Farm Bureau is a member of the America Farm Bureau Federation, an independent, non-governmental, voluntary organization governed by and representing farm and ranch families united for analyzing their problems and formulating action to achieve educational improvement, economic opportunity and social advancement and, thereby, to promote the national well-being.
The Alaska Farm Bureau’s mission is to improve the economic well-being and expansion of agriculture and to enrich the quality of life for all Alaskans. For more information, go to: http://www.alaskafb.org.
Alaska Farm Bureau