Game farm quarantined after officials find disease
A Collbran game farm has been quarantined after state officials discovered the presence of pseudorabies, a contagious viral disease dangerous to livestock and wildlife.
The Little Creek Ranch, also known as the Rim Rock Deer Park, was issued the quarantine notice Friday after officials with the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the state Department of Agriculture earlier this month discovered a shipment of illegal feral hogs being trucked to the ranch tested positive for pseudorabies.
State officials on Nov. 17 stopped a livestock truck headed for the ranch and found the truck carried 20 exotic sheep and 16 feral hogs. Feral hogs are illegal to import into Colorado. The livestock was impounded after the truck driver could not produce the required documents for transporting any of the animals.
Fourteen of the hogs subsequently tested positive for pseudorabies, according to the Department of Agriculture.
“This is the first case of pseudorabies discovered in feral hogs in Colorado, and it’s important to stress that our livestock industry is not at risk,” said Keith Roehr, assistant state veterinarian with the Department of Agriculture.
Pseudorabies is primarily spread through animal-to-animal direct contact. While the disease can affect a variety of wildlife, domestic livestock and pets, it’s particularly virulent in hogs, where it can cause abortion and deaths in breeding hogs.
All 50 states are considered pseudorabies-free, and Colorado doesn’t want to risk losing its status.
“Our department is working quickly and cooperatively with the Division of Wildlife to ensure that this virus is not allowed to spread,” Roehr said.
Little Creek Ranch is owned by Alan Baier of Collbran and is licensed with the DOW as a commercial wildlife park. Baier’s permit allows him to offer hunting for wild boar and feral hogs because it dates prior to the state’s banning the importation or possession of these animals.
Baier was not available for comment Friday afternoon.
The ranch Web site advertises a variety of big-game hunting along with hunts for such exotic animals as wild boar, Corsican ram, Mouflon ram, Spanish goat, Ibex goat and other nonnative animals.
The quarantine notice means no animals, alive or dead, may enter or leave the ranch.
According to the quarantine notice, a recent visit to the ranch by DOW officials listed 82 fence violations, places where animals possibly could escape. The breaks in the fence must be repaired as part of the quarantine.
Feral hogs have been reported roaming parts of Grand Mesa for several years, and state wildlife officers and local ranchers have reported killing feral hogs on public land, according to the Division of Wildlife.
Feral hogs on public land may be killed year-round, and no license is required.