TSCRA leaders testified Tuesay in Washington, D.C., at a Congressional forum regarding fever tick issues impacting the cattle industry in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. The forum was hosted by U.S. Reps. Filemon Vela and Ted Yoho, along with U.S. House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Mike Conaway and Ranking Member Collin Peterson.
“TSCRA appreciates the Congressional leaders who have worked on the fever tick issue and have given us the opportunity to testify at this informative and productive forum,” said Dave Delaney, TSCRA Fever Tick Subcommittee member and general manager of the King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas. “Ranchers in the South Texas and Rio Grande Valley region have been working tirelessly to control the fever tick. Ranchers’ abilities to manage the most recent fever tick outbreak have been made extremely difficult due to the current infestation of wildlife on the 223,000 acre Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). It is imperative that United States Department of Agriculture Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA APHIS), Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), FWS and private landowners work closely together to control the cattle fever tick epidemic and jointly address obstacles prohibiting the successful eradication of fever ticks from Texas.”
At the briefing, TSCRA representatives, along with USDA APHIS and TAHC, discussed the current setbacks in the cattle industry as a result of fever ticks and the ongoing efforts to work toward eradication of the pest. Additionally, TSCRA leaders made visits to Congressional offices to discuss the fever tick issue.
“It was essential for TSCRA to testify at this forum and raise awareness about the critically important fever tick issue,” said Freddy Nieto, TSCRA Fever Tick Subcommittee vice chairman and general manager of El Sauz Ranch in Raymondville, Texas. “Far too many ranchers have devoted a great amount of time and personal resources toward treating and inspecting their livestock. I am glad we got to speak on behalf of these hardworking cattlemen and women today in Washington. TSCRA looks forward to continuing our work on the fever tick issue with Congressional leaders and addressing the challenges that accompany eradicating cattle fever ticks on a national wildlife refuge.”
Fever ticks are capable of carrying a microscopic parasite that causes bovine babesiosis, also known as cattle fever. This disease causes acute anemia, fever and an enlarged spleen and liver, often leading to death for cattle. Fever ticks have been contained since 1943 to a thin strip of land along the Texas/Mexico border, known as the “permanent systematic quarantine zone.” Due to some changes in the ticks’ environment in South Texas, lack of action from the FWS and existing regulations on ranchers, fever ticks appear to be moving north. Without necessary attention to this destructive pest, the outbreak in Texas could spread throughout the country, leading to a potential economic impact exceeding $1.2 Billion.