LAREDO – The latest research and educational information on ticks and how they affect cattle and wildlife production will be presented at a two-day conference March 23-24 at the Embassy Suites in Laredo.
“Those in the cattle business or who own/manage wildlife operations will take home specific information on tick eradication and control methods,” said Joe Paschal, Texas AgriLife Extension Service beef cattle specialist in Corpus Christi. “This two-day conference will address specific topics such as the history of the tick, the life cycle, its habitat and also give a first-hand look at the latest in current eradication efforts.”
The fever tick is a major concern to the livestock and wildlife industry, Paschal said. It can carry and transmit Babesia, a blood parasite that can kill adult cattle. Other hosts for the fever tick are horses, whitetail and other deer species, and elk.
Potential economic losses due to the cattle tick are in the millions, according to AgriLife Extension economists.
“We want to attract all stakeholders (livestock and wildlife) to this conference and build upon a concerted effort in battling movement of the fever tick,” said Dr. Tom Hairgrove, AgriLife Extension livestock systems program specialist.
The program will begin March 23 with an update on federal and state tick control efforts, followed by a presentation from Dr. Tammy Beckham, director of the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Center. Beckham will discuss current activities conducted by both agencies in the U.S. and Mexico.
Afterward, Dr. Perez De Leon, U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service scientist, will give an overview of fever tick control research efforts and eradication. Dr. Kevin Varner, USDA-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and Dr. Dee Ellis, executive director of the Texas Animal Health Commission, will follow with discussions on current eradication efforts, expenditures and quarantine efforts in the state. Dr. Jim Gallagher, AgriLife Extension wildlife specialist in Uvalde, will conclude the day with a presentation on ticks and how they interact with wildlife operations.
On March 24th, the conference will move to Rancho Blanco, south of Laredo, which lies within the Permanent Fever Tick Quarantine Zone. Jim Mutz, former ranch manager for Rancho Blanco, will talk about real-world cattle and wildlife management inside the quarantine zone.
Other discussions will include control activities, costs and cost-share programs available for altering tick habitat, and a tour of the ranch, featuring an explanation of different control strategies.
AgriLife Extension, Texas AgriLife Research, Texas Animal Health Commission, USDA-Agricultural Research Service and other cooperating agencies are sponsoring the event.
The conference is free, but registration is requested to obtain an accurate count for meals. To register, call the AgriLife Extension office in Webb County at 956-721-2626.