“There are two levels of government and five different departments, and when you have that many groups involved they don’t always co-ordinate well. One of our requests is the appointment of a single person to be responsible for the issue and co-ordinate all the departments.”
— Cam Dahl, general manager of the Manitoba Beef Producers speaking last month on the problems with the effort to eradicate tuberculosis in and around Riding Mountain National Park.
Cam Dahl should be a happy man this week.
As the Sun reports today, Manitoba veterinarian and Hamiota cattle producer Dr. Allan Preston has been appointed by the federal government to co-ordinate bovine TB eradication efforts in the Riding Mountain National Park region.
In its press release, the federal government said Preston will “guide a multi-stakeholder working group to enhance ongoing TB eradication efforts in the area.” The group will include officials from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Parks Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Manitoba Agriculture, Manitoba Conservation, and various cattle industry associations, conservation groups and local First Nations.
Preston helped to establish the Riding Mountain eradication area, has served on many TB working groups and committees, spearheaded Manitoba’s TB Mustering Fee program, and has had considerable experience working with all affected parties to develop and implement the Bovine Tuberculosis Eradication Plan for the region.
In short, he is imminently qualified.
Immediately following Monday’s announcement MBP president Ray Armbruster hailed the federal government’s decision to appoint a co-ordinator to lead the TB eradication efforts and said his organization looks forward to working with Preston.
“Agreements between two levels of government, four ministers and five departments are not often easy to reach,” Armbruster said. “Ministers have taken this important, co-ordinated step towards the eradication of bovine TB in the RMEA because they recognize the impact the disease is having on both cattle herds and wildlife.”
His appointment should not detract from the considerable work that has already been done by many groups in the region, especially Parks Canada staff.
Riding Mountain employees have been working diligently for years to capture TB-infected wild deer and elk within the park and remove them from the animal population.
The Sun has documented this work over the years, and its clear that the park’s capture and testing efforts have been slowly improving the situation. But Dahl is correct — when that many groups are involved, information sharing and co-ordinating those efforts becomes unwieldy, unless their is one unifying leader to take control of the file.
We caution that Preston’s appointment will not necessarily speed up the disease’s elimination — animal testing and removals take time and considerable effort. And it likely doesn’t mean the end of costly TB testing for producers who live adjacent to the park, several of whom have seen many of their animals destroyed because of the disease.
However, having one person, especially a 20-year veteran veterinarian who is highly familiar with the TB problem, and who also happens to know something about raising cattle and the fears and irritants producers face, will hopefully go a long way to ease any remaining tensions between groups and governments that have popped up from time to time.
His appointment was the correct decision in our opinion.