Elk Ranchers Request Governor Walker Withdraw Proposed CWD Plan

May 17, 2018


The North American Elk Breeders Association (NAEBA) announces its opposition to Governor Scott Walker’s proposed changes to the state’s Chronic Wasting Disease management. Last week, Governor Walker announced unprecedented policy changes for all elk and deer ranches in the state. 

NAEBA, which represents elk owners across the United States, Canada and Mexico, supports control measures to mitigate the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease. However, Governor Walker’s proposed changes will do little to solve the state’s Chronic Wasting Disease problem while regulating most elk and deer ranches out of business.

In all reality, forcing double fencing will result in a $10,000- $150,000 unfunded mandate, per ranch. No state or province in the United States and Canada has ever forced all their existing elk and deer operations to double fence. If a jurisdiction ever proposes fence regulation changes, there is always a grandfather clause to avoid unfunded mandates.  The prohibition for operations to move animals completely halts commerce while punishing business owners for the state’s free ranging deer herds. Wisconsin business owners have no ability to stop free-ranging deer from bringing Chronic Wasting Disease into their county, which will result in the business equivalent of the death penalty for their operation.

Wisconsin is a major segment of the nation’s farmed elk and deer industry. Wisconsin’s industry alone has an estimated annual output of $71 million that supports 1,651 jobs.

NAEBA respectfully requests Governor Walker to withdraw his proposal and take a deeper look at other ways to protect the state Chronic Wasting Disease.

Such proposals without scientific basis fuel the public’s misunderstanding about Chronic Wasting Disease and cervid ranches. The State of Wisconsin and United States Department of Agriculture have a movement program with rigorous protocol for elk and deer operations that move animals intrastate and interstate. The program requires all eligible mortalities over twelve months of age be tested for Chronic Wasting Disease at the owner’s expense.  Moreover, Chronic Wasting Disease has been discovered in several states and countries where elk and deer ranching does not exist. Clearly, there are other factors at work spreading this disease.

NAEBA join the Whitetails of Wisconsin Association’s enthusiasm for developing elk and deer with resistant genetics to Chronic Wasting Disease. Though the known genetic lines are not “immune” to the disease, the increased resistance is much better than the genetic makeup of the state’s free ranching animals.

The North American Elk Breeders Association, or NAEBA, is a 501(c)(5) non-profit organization representing the elk ranching industry in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Formed in 1990, NAEBA is recognized by federal authorities as the voice of the industry and enjoys Allied Industry Status in the United States Animal Health Association.  

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