Texas

Meet the tick riders of South Texas, a different type of border patrol

These cavalrymen control the Rio Grande along the US-Mexico border. But they are not the people they are looking for.

EAGLE PASS, Texas – “It’s close to being a cowboy, but with the hours of bankers.”

An elderly cowboy says as he finishes riding a horse named Smoky to ride along the Rio Grande at the Eagle Crossing on the Texas-Mexico border.

“Usually it’s just him and me. From Monday to Friday.”

The cowboy version of the banker’s watch comes less comfortably, for example, you have to wear a hat while riding to protect your feet from the thorns and curly branches that fill the wide, beautiful landscape near the river.

No matter how unforgivable the scene and the work is physically difficult, it is also liberating.

This old cowboy tells me, “You are your boss.

His name is Tony Romo. No no ki Tony Romo, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys. It’s not known for Tony Romo throwing a soccer ball … or what he’s been doing for 45 years throughout the Rio Grande

“Most people (say) ‘You know, Tony Romo, a guy with a mustache?’ Yes, I am known for a decent mustache, ”Romo told me.

“He grows quite a lot, yes,” added Roma’s younger brother, David.

Instead of scoring, this Romo measures its success in preventing invasive pests.

He and his brother are ticks from the US Department of Agriculture. Ticks are also known as equestrian patrol inspectors or river riders.

This work has existed since 1906. It is only available in Texas and along the Rio Grande from Del Rio to Brownsville, known only as a permanent quarantine zone.

“This program is extremely important for the livestock industry in the United States,” said Teofilo Vela, director of Romo and officially recognized as the field operations supervisor of the Tick-Cutting Program for Cattle Fever in the Northern Provinces. “We are stopping the arrival of an invasive pest that is harmful and extremely bad for American livestock.”

Vela said there were a total of 70 cavalry patrol inspectors in the program, such as Romo.

Tick ​​patrols alone. One day in May, KENS 5’s pursuers worked along the Rio Grande and in the Eagle Pass area on the border between the United States and Mexico.

“You’re looking for signs of irrelevant activity,” Romo said. “You start watching these pieces to see where they’re going.”

Romo and Vela tell KENS 5 that the riders are looking for cattle – Rio Grande’s cattle and horses heading to the United States from Mexico could carry the tick’s tick tick.

“The river itself is not the border,” Vela said. “According to them, they don’t know they are in this or that country.”

Vela said cattle on the Mexican side of the river are immune to ticks. But there are no cattle on this side of the river, and there is no vaccination. Thus, the only way to control Texas cattle fever is to prevent contact with ticks, and to inspect and treat stray cattle or exposed domestic animals.

“He will either get sick or die,” Vela said of the cattle on the US side of the river. “It’s very expensive, very expensive for the industry.”

Livestock entering the country is inspected, treated and can be returned to the owner. If not, it is canceled.

The work may seem lonely because the drivers work on their own.

But Romo sees himself as part of something bigger. So he is never alone.

“I have a friend,” he said, pointing to Smokey.

“He is always with you,” Romo said, pointing to the sky. “If you’re thinking of taking it with you.”

Romo has been here for 45 years. He started working after seeing that his father was doing his job. It is bigger than six. Her baby brother, David, is also a tick.

“I grew up with him and watching him (Tony), yes, I can say he’s a big part of it,” David said. “When you love your job, it’s not your job, you know.”

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Meet the tick riders of South Texas, a different type of border patrol

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