Chronic wasting disease causes a fatal neurological condition in deer. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department recently reported the disease has been found in three Texas breeding facilities.
Deer are raised at those facilities and then sold to game ranches where hunters pay big money to kill a trophy buck.
The disease was found at two breeders in Uvalde County and one in Hunt County – that was after they had shipped deer to 101 release sites across the state. Now the concern is that chronic wasting disease, or CWD, could spread at game ranches and even among the wild deer population.
Austin-based HuffPost reporter Roque Planas says that would be the “worst-case scenario.”
“Any movement of chronic wasting disease is a big deal because once it gets into a deer herd, it’s very difficult to get it out,” Planas told Texas Standard. “That’s why the state is, right now, scrambling to try and identify it wherever they can.”
Highlights from this segment:
– Planas says Texas Parks and Wildlife’s “early detection system” for CWD failed. It tried to crack down on potential spread of the disease by changing its rules in November, and requiring breeders to submit CWD tests within two weeks of finding a dead deer at their facility. But that rule came after breeders had already moved deer to sites across the state.
– Testing for CWD is not pleasant. A deer must either already be dead or be killed to perform a test. In one case, Planas says TPWD had to “depopulate” an entire breeding facility for testing, and to stem a CWD outbreak.
– The good news is that game ranches have high fencing. If they have an infected deer, they’re less likely to escape and spread the disease in the wild. But fences aren’t a surefire prevention method.
– Preventing potential outbreaks could mean more regulation from the parks and wildlife department, which Planas says is unpopular with breeders because they argue it hurts their business.