Fort Bridger, WY 82933
Uinta County is Wyoming's southwestern most county, total area 2,088 sq. miles. Lincoln County, 4,095 sq. miles, borders Uinta County to the south and Utah and Idaho to the west. The joint county area includes the majestic Wyoming Range, Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area and close access to Utah ski areas. Excellent hunting exists in Bridger-Teton National Forest, as well as exceptional fly-fishing opportunities in the Green River. Evanston is the county seat of Uinta County, population 12K, and is just over an hour from the Salt Lake City International Airport. Lincoln County is roughly 20K population with Kemmerer as the county seat. There are approximately 400 ranches raising 39K cattle and 32K sheep in Uinta County. Lincoln County adds an additional 700 ranches with 43K cattle and 20K sheep. Much of both counties is under either federal or state ownership, and common grazing allotments are necessary for many producers. Adequate numbers of food animal veterinarians are vital to this area. Food animal veterinarians provide owner education/outreach for infections, contagious, and/or communicable diseases, supported by the constant interaction between livestock and wildlife within our grazing areas. In addition to the work available with beef cattle and sheep, there are opportunities for equine work, with fairly significant obstetrical work in the spring. There is demand for additional veterinary capability in the county, as additional veterinary support is often needed.
The joint Uinta and Lincoln County area has great opportunities for veterinary entrepreneurship and experience gained in both cattle and small ruminants. Potential exists for herd health consultation, production management, embryo transfer, and artificial insemination. Species include a near equal number of beef cattle and sheep/lambs/goats, and limited swine operations. Operations vary tremendously in size, ranging from 2000 cattle or sheep to backyard livestock enterprises. Spring is busy with obstetrical work, although over time calving season has lengthened, extending from mid-January to mid-June. Food animal surgeries include c-sections, urethrotomies/-ostomies, eye enucleations, claw removal, castration, dehorning, abscess treatment, trauma treatment, and lumpectomies. A strong desire exists within the communities for veterinary mentorship regarding livestock management, outreach, and production. Additional mentorship opportunities include regular livestock events, including 4-H and FFA. Interaction with state and federal veterinarians occurs regularly due to brucellosis surveillance. Tremendous potential also exists for collaboration with federal and state wildlife officials regarding the livestock - wildlife interface on the large percentage of federal land across the county. Producer outreach in conjunction with extension also occurs on a regular basis.
Current veterinarians in the area are aging and retiring faster than new veterinarians are hired. Efforts to recruit in the recent past have been successful in attracting veterinarians to the VMLRP program. Recruiting associate veterinarians is challenging due to increased debt and a smaller pool of interested candidates. Wyoming does not currently have a state funded student loan repayment program. Competing with states who have a loan repayment program is difficult, thus Wyoming's need for VMLRP. Because of our low population, the number of home-grown candidates tends to be small in number.
Wyoming must address this veterinary shortage to ensure a safe food supply, specifically for beef cattle and small ruminants in Uinta and Lincoln County. Wyoming's Brucellosis Designated Surveillance Area (DSA), encompassing all of Lincoln County. Wyoming requires intense brucellosis surveillance for cattle residing within the DSA, and upon change of ownership either within or upon transiting the DSA. In-person veterinary care is needed to mitigate increased risk to public health threats such as emerging diseases and drug residue exposure. Wyoming's #3 business is agriculture, and the joint county area is representative of Wyoming’s ranch culture. Producers need continual veterinary care, advice on preventive medicine, and production management recommendations for their animals. We continue to lose more food animal veterinarians annually than we are able to hire. Without access to veterinarians, our producers are unable to test their cattle in a timely manner, resulting in economic loss. Food animal veterinarians are needed for continually increasing regulations regarding veterinary feed directives and antibiotic usage, along with the continued demand for organic, grass-fed beef and niche marketing, difficult with the harsh winters we receive. Increasing interaction between livestock and wildlife due to changing land use continues to present challenges for Wyoming producers. Food animal veterinarians are ideally poised to offer education and outreach, along with specifically designed herd health plans, to keep our producers economically viable. The Wyoming Livestock Board is in the process of developing an animal disease traceability program, and recruiting private practitioner input. Our food animal veterinarians are paramount for success of this program, especially with their highly valued, practical input.