MDA says feedlot TB quarantine was violated

Owner hit with 47 counts of violating Animal Industry Act

STANDISH — The owner of a Lincoln Township feedlot where a case of bovine tuberculosis was discovered last September has been charged with violating the Animal Industry Act for allegedly buying and selling livestock while a quarantine was in place.

Danny Koelsch, 66, has been charged with 47 counts of violating the Animal Industry Act, with 31 counts alleging he illegally sold cattle after the Michigan Department of Agriculture quarantined his herd, and another 16 counts alleging he illegally added cattle to the herd.

Each count is a felony and carries a penalty of five years in prison and/or a $1,000-$50,000 fine.

Koelsch was arraigned in 81st District Court Feb. 3, and was scheduled for a preliminary examination Feb. 10. However, according to district court, he waived his right for a preliminary exam within 14 days of arraignment, and the hearing has been rescheduled for Feb. 24. A status conference has also been scheduled for the same day.

Dr. Rick Smith of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said staff members had allegedly informed Koelsch that he must stop moving animals in and out of the herd or to set up a pen at least 30 feet away from the feedlot to isolate new cattle. However, Smith alleged that the advice from staff members was ignored.

Smith said if more animals had been infected by leaving or joining the quarantined Arenac County herd, the state’s TB-free status could have been jeopardized, which is why the MDARD pursued charges against Koelsch.

“Multiple staff people went out there to talk to him and he just was not very amenable to anything,” he said. “We figured rather than throwing the whole state under the bus, we have to take some decisive action to get this thing under control.”

A feedlot owned by Koelsch was discovered to have a TB-positive animal that was purchased from a herd in Gratiot County. The discovery led the MDARD to perform circle testing at farms within a three-mile radius of the operation.

Smith said there are still five farms left to be tested, and that producers have until mid-March to finish the testing. Overall, 14 farms were identified for testing, but only 11 had livestock on the premises, Smith said.


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