Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Shortage Region WY243

Shortage Location - Must Serve
Park and Hot Springs Counties, Wyoming
Shortage Location - May Serve
Washakie and Big Horn Counties, Wyoming
Location Center
1360 Owl Creek Rd Thermopolis, WY 82443
VSGP Status
VMLRP Status
(Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program)
Priority of shortage
Fiscal year
Percent FTE
(Full Time Equivalent, based on a 40hr work week.)
Type of Shortage
(Veterinary Practice Area / Discipline / Specialty)
Type II Shortage: Private Practice – Rural Area Food Animal Medicine
Must serve
Beef Cattle
Other Must Serve
Other May Serve
Position Title
Other disciplinary area
Carry Over
Nominator Name
Hallie Hasel, DVM
Nominator Title
Wyoming State Veterinarian
Nominator Org
Wyoming Livestock Board
Nominator Email
Nominator Phone
Importance/Objectives of Veterinarian
Park County, Wyoming is approximately 6,967 sq. miles, in scenic western Wyoming. Hot Springs County includes another 2,006 sq. miles. Area cattle and small ruminant ranching operations are traditional western, and include a mix of land under either federal or state ownership. Common grazing allotments are available for many producers within the county. There are approximately 1200 ranches raising 62K cattle/calves and 27K sheep/lambs, as of 2017. The entirety of Park and Hot Springs Counties are inside Wyoming's Brucellosis Designated Surveillance Area (DSA). Wyoming requires intense brucellosis surveillance for cattle residing within the DSA, and upon change of ownership either within or upon transiting the DSA. Food animal veterinarians must provide herd health plans and owner education/outreach for infections, contagious, and/or communicable diseases, supported by the constant interaction between livestock and wildlife within our grazing areas. There are additional opportunities for small ruminant and equine work. There is demand for additional veterinary capability in the county, as some veterinarians travel from as far as two and a half hours away to service local ranches. The importance of veterinarian capability inside the Brucellosis DSA cannot be overstated. Information and services provided by a veterinarian will improve herd health, reproductive efficiency, and nutritional management - all contributing to producer profitability and overall economic growth in an area heavily reliant on animal agriculture. Additionally, an accredited large animal practitioner in this area will be an intermediary for regulatory officials and producers - communicating and endorsing state and federal animal health regulations, disease programs, animal welfare, and interstate livestock movement. An accredited veterinarian in this area is vital to the livestock producers in Park and Hot Springs County.
Veterinarian Medical Activities & Services
Park and Hot Springs County have strong opportunities for outstanding veterinary entrepreneurship. Potential exists for herd health consultation, production management, embryo transfer, and artificial insemination. Species include beef cattle, swine, and equine. The average cow herd is 200-300 head, with a few in the 6-800 range, with additional backyard livestock enterprises. Spring is busy with obstetrical work, although over time the "calving season" has lengthened, going from mid-January to mid-June. Fall is busy with health checks, brucellosis testing, and adult vaccination. Food animal surgeries include c-sections, urethrotomies/-ostomies, eye enucleations, claw removal, castration, dehorning, abscess treatment, trauma treatment, and lumpectomies. There are a large number of cow/calf producers in the county, as well as a large area for backgrounding yearling cattle. The ideal candidate will be familiar with the veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) process for writing veterinary feed directives (VFD) to comply with Guidance for Industry (GFI) #263 as part of the effort to combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Further, hogs in the area require veterinarians knowledgeable in African Swine Fever, influenza, and pseudorabies. Local equine owners and numerous area rodeos require a veterinarian ready to respond to West Nile Virus outbreaks and equine infectious anemia sampling for interstate transport. Additionally, a strong desire exists within the rural communities for veterinary mentorship regarding livestock management, outreach, and production. Additional mentorship opportunities include numerous 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. Producer outreach in conjunction with extension also occurs on a regular basis.
Historical Efforts of Recruiting/Retaining a Veterinarian
Current veterinarians in the area are aging and retiring faster than new veterinarians are hired. Due to the elevated risk of brucellosis within Wyoming's Brucellosis Designated Surveillance Area, cattle herd surveillance is of utmost importance for Wyoming's livestock producers. Recruiting and retaining associate veterinarians is both essential and 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.
Consequences of Not Securing/Retaining a Veterinarian
Wyoming must address this veterinary shortage to ensure a safe food supply, specifically for beef cattle in or transiting Wyoming's Brucellosis Designated Surveillance Area (DSA), encompassing all of Park and Hot Springs Counties. Due to the elevated risk of brucellosis within Wyoming's cattle herd, over 83,000 cattle are tested annually. Without the required testing, surrounding states may be unwilling to accept Wyoming origin cattle. Wyoming's #3 business is agriculture, and Park and Hot Springs Counties are a strong representative of Wyoming's traditional ranch culture. In-person veterinary care is needed to mitigate increased risk to public health threats such as emerging diseases and drug residue exposure. 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.
Community Aspects
Park and Hot Springs Counties are surrounded by three mountain ranges: the Absaroka Range, the Owl Creek Range, and the Wind River Range. The area offers excellent elk and antelope hunting, with exceptional fly-fishing opportunities in Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River. Additional opportunities range from snowmobiling and skiing, to fine dining and glamping in Cody, the county seat of Park County. The attractions for a new veterinarian to move to this geographic area are numerous. The access to public lands makes many popular outdoor activities readily available such as camping, hiking, paddle-boarding, fishing, hunting, snow-shoeing, and many others. Other attractions include welcoming and supportive communities that share and contribute to the way of life unique to this area. Further, Park County borders Yellowstone National Park to the west. Exploring into Wyoming offers access to towering Grand Teton National Park, blue ribbon wild trout rivers, national-best elk and antelope hunting, and premier dining and western experience events from Jackson Hole to Cody to Sheridan. Although primarily rural in nature, outdoor adventures in Hot Springs County are numerous, including natural hot springs in Thermopolis, fishing, hunting, hiking, and year around activities. Options include snowmobiling, snowshoeing, rafting, fossil digs, and numerous events all within a short drive. Options exist for youth mentorship through numerous livestock events, including 4-H, and FFA.

Your feedback is important to us.

Take the Website Survey