Cattle Fever Tick Control Barrier
ALERT: Availability of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Cattle Fever Tick Control Barrier.
Cattle fever is a severe and often fatal disease of cattle transmitted by cattle fever ticks, Rhipicephalus (=Boophilus) annulatus, and southern cattle ticks, R. microplus. These parasites typically attach themselves to the skin inside an animal’s thigh, flanks, and forelegs or along the belly and brisket and spread cattle fever through infected saliva. Infection can cause anemia, seizures, aggressiveness, jaundice, and even death. To combat fever ticks, APHIS created the Cattle Fever Tick Eradication Program (CFTEP) in 1906. With the help of mounted patrol inspectors (also known as tick riders) and systematic quarantines, the CFTEP eradicated cattle fever and cattle fever ticks from the continental United States in 1943, with the exception of a permanent quarantine “buffer” zone between Texas and Mexico—a country where these ticks remain well established. Today, this buffer zone extends over 500 miles from Del Rio, Texas, to the Gulf of Mexico.
Controlling Cattle Fever Ticks
Current efforts to control fever ticks along the quarantine line include a partial tick control barrier fence, livestock movement quarantines, and tick treatments for cattle and deer. While these methods are effective, the free-ranging movement of deer and stray livestock across non-fenced properties and an increase in the overall white-tailed deer population has led to increased fever tick infestations in South Texas in recent years. As of October 2009, 72 premises outside the quarantined area were found to be infested, compared to 8 infested premises in October 2006 — a nine-fold increase in 3 years.
Tick Control Barrier
In response to increasing tick infestations, APHIS proposes extending and filling in gaps in existing fencing in three Texas counties: Maverick County, Zapata County, and Starr County. The extended barrier would limit the movement of tick-infested wildlife beyond the quarantine zone by using 8-foot high game fencing. The proposed segments would encompass approximately 6 miles in Maverick County along El Indio Highway 1021 and, on the west side of U.S. Highway 83, 47 miles in Zapata County and 13 miles in Starr County.
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National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
As a Federal Government agency subject to compliance with NEPA (42 U.S.C. 4321-4347), APHIS prepared this Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in accordance with the applicable implementing and administrative regulations (40 CFR §§ 1500-1508; 7 CFR §§ 1b, 2.22(a)(8), 2.80(a)(30), 372). APHIS considered potential significant environmental effects on the quality of the human environment caused by providing a cost share toward installation of game fencing by landowners in four of the counties (Maverick, Starr, Webb, and Zapata Counties) along the Permanent Tick Quarantine Line. The intent of game fencing is to help prevent the spread of cattle fever ticks to U.S. cattle populations from free-ranging tick hosts, such as stray or smuggled livestock from Mexico and wildlife ungulates (hoofed animals), including white-tailed deer. The fencing would ultimately contribute another tool towards eradication and control efforts.
Scoping is an open and early process for determining the scope of the issues to be addressed and for identifying the significant issues related to a proposed action in the EIS. Public scoping is required under the Council on Environmental Quality NEPA regulations. Scoping for this EIS began on February 15, 2011, when APHIS gave notice of its intent to prepare an EIS for the proposed tick control barrier in South Texas.
The notice solicited public involvement in the form of either oral or written comments on the proposed fence installation. Main issues raised by commenters included the location of the tick barrier; coordination of tick control efforts with other agencies; impacts of the fence on wildlife, ranchers, hunters, and residents of colonias; and efficacy of the tick barrier. A link to the summary of the scoping comments is located on the right side of this web page.
In accordance with requirements under APHIS' NEPA Implementing Procedures, APHIS is making the Draft EIS available to the public for comment through the Federal Register and also has mailed copies of the EIS to members of the public and public agencies who indicated an interest in receiving a copy of the document at public meetings. Providing public notice of an environmental document to interested or affected persons and agencies is consistent with requirements under CEQ and APHIS NEPA regulations (40 CFR § 1506.6(b) and 7 CFR §§ 1b, 372, respectively).
You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
We will consider all comments that we receive on or before August 30, 2013.