American Cervid Alliance

LETTER: CWD?being Mishandled at State Level

October 24, 2014

The St. James Leader Journal
October 23, 2014

Bill Cooper misinterprets a recent situation at an Iowa deer farm in order to mistakenly advocate for flawed regulations of deer farms in Missouri. The Iowa farm did have a number of animals test positive for CWD—but that’s the fault of the state, not the farmers. Initially, one animal tested positive for CWD in 2012. Iowa’s protocol was to depopulate the farm within 60 days, but the state didn’t follow its own protocol and even rejected a plan from the farmers to get rid of the animals through hunting on a private ranch (even though this movement was approved by USDA and had no indemnification cost to the state). Two years later the deer were finally depopulated, but the state’s actions led to the disease spreading among the herd at a higher prevalence rate.

    The outbreak was caught and stopped, all animals were accounted for. The CWD certification program worked—but politics got in the way.

    Cooper takes issue with an indemnity paid to the Iowa farm. The indemnity is there because the government is taking someone’s private property—in this case, the government is destroying deer to prevent the spread of disease. It’s the same as with government indemnities for bovine tuberculosis or scrapie, and it’s the same as when the government seizes land to build a highway and compensates the landowner.

    We have individual property rights under the Constitution. In Missouri, however, the Department of Conservation has proposed regulations for deer farms that seem to exceed its authority, such as prohibiting new deer farms in certain locations and regulating even who finances them. Businesses can and should be regulated, but they shouldn’t be arbitrarily regulated to death by a wildlife agency. That’s why it makes sense to transfer oversight of deer farms from the Missouri Department of Conservation to the Department of Agriculture, which has more livestock and disease expertise.

    Charly Seale

    American Cervid Alliance

    Ayr, Nebraska

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