Attention Sheep and Goat Owners in Alaska! We need your help! The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposes to adopt regulation changes in Title 18, Chapter 36 of the Alaska Administrative Code, dealing with Animal Health.
Submit your comments on proposed regulations that would place burdensome and unnecessary requirements on Alaska’s sheep and goat owners by requiring all new sheep and goats entering the state of Alaska to be tested for Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (M. ovi).
The public comment period is open 8/7/2020–9/30/2020. To see the full public notice and to comment, visit: https://dec.alaska.gov/eh/vet/regulations/
It is our position that domestic sheep and goats have been bearing the brunt of the blame for pneumonia outbreaks in bighorn sheep with M. ovi being the current pathogen focused on. Attempts over the past several years have been made to place expensive and burdensome regulations on Alaska’s sheep and goat owners; testing imports is just one piece.
Science and data do not support required testing of M. ovi as a solution to pneumonia outbreaks.
Here are the facts about M.Ovi:
- M. ovi is endemic in North American small ruminants.
- M. ovi positive does not mean diseased; some M. ovi positive big horn herds have had pneumonia outbreaks while others are thriving.
- M. ovi is not limited to sheep, goats and muskox as assumed; testing in Alaska has found M. ovi in deer, caribou and moose.
- Alaska has had no die-offs associated with M. ovi.
- Testing showed similar prevalence of M. ovi positive wildlife as domestic animals, around 4-5%.
- M. ovi found widespread across Alaska in wildlife, including remote areas where there is no interaction with livestock.
- M. ovi is not new to Alaska; wildlife test samples dating back to 2004 have tested positive for M. ovi.
More information on science and studies involving M. ovi can be found here.
With roughly 95% of our food being imported we’ve seen our store shelves empty due to earthquakes and other natural disasters, strikes and now with the COVID-19 pandemic we’re seeing how vulnerable our food supply chain can be. The State of Alaska should support increasing food production instead of costly and burdensome regulations that will impede growth.
With M. ovi currently in Alaska’s wildlife populations (across the state and in multiple species), testing imported sheep and goats will have no impact on M. ovi being in wildlife populations, it will increase the cost to our farmers to do business. It will increase costs to maintain healthy flocks by bringing in new genetics. It will increase costs to the consumer who get meat, dairy or fiber from these farms. It will increase costs to our 4-H and FFA kids.
Whether you’re a sheep/goat owner, someone who benefits from their products or just support increasing Alaska’s food production, get your comments submitted opposing changes to 18 AAC 36.125 and 18 AAC 36.135 that would require testing of M. ovi for importing sheep and goats.
Comments due by 11:59pm on September 30, 2020
Not sure what to say? Here’s a sample to get you started.
Read the public notice here
More information on M. ovi can be found here.
Submit comments by mail, email, fax or online:
Department of Environmental Conservation
555 Cordova Street
Anchorage, AK 99501
Email: [email protected]