Recently I had the opportunity to travel to south Texas to learn first-hand about our Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program.
USDA has successfully eradicated cattle fever in the U.S. Only a permanent quarantine buffer zone remains in south Texas, which spans 500 miles from Del Rio to Brownsville. The ticks and disease remain well-established in Mexico, so the buffer zone is necessary to keep U.S. cattle free of cattle fever by preventing the re-establishment of the ticks.
The USDA-employed mounted patrol officers, better known as the famous “Tick Riders,” provide the cornerstone of our surveillance program. The 86 “Tick Riders,” mounted on horseback, provide the first line of defense against an outbreak of cattle fever.
I had the opportunity and honor to ride on horseback side-by-side with some of our “Tick Riders” and Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) –VS Veterinarians. Following the dusty trail along the Rio Grande, south of Del Rio, I quickly experienced the enthusiasm, commitment and importance of our “Tick Riders.” That day a Mexican bull, having crossed the river, was captured.
With sore muscles as a result of the ride, I express my gratitude to these hard working public servants.