Colorado hunting ranch quarantined over animal disease |

Colorado hunting ranch quarantined over animal disease

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. ” State officials have quarantined a western Colorado hunting ranch after 14 feral hogs tested positive for pseudorabies, a contagious disease that can threaten commercial swine herds, wildlife and pets.

The Little Creek Ranch in Collbran, about 160 miles west of Denver, was quarantined on Wednesday, said state Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton.

The quarantine was announced Friday. Alan Baier, listed in state records as the registered agent for the ranch, didn’t immediately return a call.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says pseudorabies can cause abortions, stillbirths, respiratory problems and occasional deaths in animals, especially pigs. USDA says the virus has never been shown to be contagious to humans, but Hampton said it can spread to wildlife and pets.

The Little Creek Ranch is a licensed commercial wildlife park where feral pigs, also known as wild boars, can be hunted.

The state bans the importation and possession of feral pigs in most cases, but Little Creek may import a limited number under certain conditions because its wild boar operation was in place before the ban was imposed, Hampton said.

Hampton said the infected animals were among 16 feral hogs and 20 exotic sheep that were seized as they were about to enter the ranch in a livestock trailer on Nov. 17. Hampton said the driver who was delivering the animals didn’t have the required permits.

The seized animals are in state custody.

All 50 states are considered free of the pseudorabies virus in commercial production swine herds. State officials said the positive tests in the feral pigs do not change that.

“It’s important to stress that our livestock industry is not at risk,” said Keith Roehr, the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s assistant state veterinarian.

“Our department is working quickly and cooperatively with the Division of Wildlife to ensure that this virus is not allowed to spread,” he said.

Roehr said this is the first case of pseudorabies discovered in feral hogs in the state.

The quarantine means no animals, alive or dead, may enter or leave the ranch until the order is lifted, and all animals currently at the ranch be checked.

Hampton said state wildlife agencies nationwide are trying to keep feral hog packs from getting established because they can damage wildlife habitat and pass diseases to wildlife.

Hampton said feral hogs have been confirmed in southeastern Colorado and on the Grand Mesa near Collbran.

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