Stray livestock wandering between Chihuahua, Mexico, and Texas continue to present animal health concerns along the Rio Grande River in far West Texas, according to Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) and United States Agriculture (USDA) officials.

A total of 96 head of cattle (72 adults and 24 calves) originating from Mexico were recently captured and transported to government pens for inspection and testing. Luckily, all of the animals tested negative for both bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis, diseases found commonly in Mexico.

 According to Dr. Grant Wease, field veterinarian for USDA/APHIS Veterinary Services in El Paso, the primary purpose of this gather was to prevent the introduction of livestock diseases into the State of Texas and the United States. "We have had indications that some cattle were being taken off the river and sold through various livestock markets in Texas and New Mexico, and that is an illegal entry of animals into the U.S So far a total of 310 head of cattle and 140 head of equine have been captured this year along the Texas/ Mexico border."

 According to the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) brand inspectors, all fire brands found on the cattle appeared to be of Mexican origin. There were 20 head of cattle that had no brands at all.

"It took a cooperative effort between TAHC, USDA, local authorities, and cattle industry partners to make this gather possible," said Dr. Dee Ellis, Texas' State Veterinarian. "Because of ongoing border security problems and the illegal movement of livestock, Texas and the U.S. continue to be at high risk for disease introduction," Ellis said. Citizens are encouraged to contact local law enforcement or animal health officials to report any unusual activity regarding livestock or poultry near the border.

 With limited resources, the TAHC and USDA work together with state, federal and local law enforcement officials to monitor border areas to prevent the introduction of foreign livestock or poultry diseases from entering Texas. It is anticipated that more cattle will be captured in Texas in the future as the animals continue to move freely across the Rio Grande in certain locations.

Visit www.tahc.state.tx.us or call 1-800-550-8242 for more information.