Free-range Deer Bigger Issue in Halting CWD

November 16, 2014

The Journal Gazette
November 16, 2014

Glenn Lange of the Indiana Wildlife Federation doesn’t seem to understand the issue of chronic wasting disease (Letters, Nov. 6). He uses the recent discovery of CWD in an Ohio deer ranch as a reason to smear all deer farming. However, a regulated industry that is testing for disease with the purpose of eradicating has earned anything but condemnation.

Deer farms that ship animals across state lines must abide by the CWD certification program administered by the Department of Agriculture, which requires that the facility test all of its eligible mortalities (animals older than 1 year) for CWD for a minimum of five years with no positive tests. This rule applies to any farm shipping deer into Indiana.

The situation in Ohio shows that the regulations worked – if CWD is found on a farm, the facility can be quarantined and depopulated.

Lange is also incorrect in stating that CWD is “always fatal.” According to the USDA, it takes almost three years on average for a deer with CWD to die from the disease, and animals often die by other means.

Lange instead should focus his concern on the lack of testing of free-range deer by the state. While deer farmers are testing 100â percent of eligible animals for CWD, Indiana (and many other states) tests fewer than 1 percent of free-ranging animals for CWD. It may be that CWD is spreading in the wild to deer farms, not the other way around – and it’s impossible to control a disease if you’re not testing for it.

No deer farmer wants CWD on his farm because it hurts his business and his brand. Lange and others should stop the political finger-pointing and focus on real solutions.


London, Ohio

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