JOURNAL ARTICLE

Effectiveness of cattle operated bump gates and exclusion fences in preventing ungulate multi-host sanitary interaction

J A Barasona, K C VerCauteren, N Saklou, C Gortazar, J Vicente
Preventive Veterinary Medicine 2013 August 1, 111 (1): 42-50
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Tuberculosis (TB) is endemic in Eurasian wild boar (Sus scrofa) and red deer (Cervus elaphus) in south central Spain, where evidence suggests transmission to domestic cattle. Known risk factors for TB at the interface between livestock and wild ungulate species include density and spatial overlap, particularly around waterholes during summer. We evaluated the effectiveness of selective exclusion measures for reducing direct and indirect interaction between extensive beef cattle and wild ungulates at waterholes as an alternative for the integrated control of TB. We first monitored 6 water points (WP) with infrared-triggered cameras at a TB positive cattle farm to quantify interactions. We then assigned 3 WP to be "cattle-only" and 3 to be "wildlife-only". Cattle-only WP were surrounded with a wildlife-proof fence (2.5 m high) and an original design of cattle-specific gate. Wildlife-only WP were surrounded by a fence that wild ungulates could breach but cattle could not (1.2 m high). Red deer, roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and wild boar easily jumped or undercrossed this fence. Wildlife-only fences were 100% effective in preventing cattle access to WP and did not impede wildlife use. Many cows learned to operate the cattle-specific gate quickly and others followed and learned from them. Within 2 weeks, around 70% of cows actively entered and exited through the cattle-specific gate. We demonstrate how simple, low-cost fencing strategies can serve as biosecurity measures to substantially reduce direct and indirect contact between cattle and wild ungulates, serving to reduce the potential for TB transmission. Our designs can be used in the context of integral plans to mitigate disease transmission between cattle and wildlife, and have potential for protecting or segregating the use of a variety of resources in different contexts.

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