American Cervid Alliance

Laurie Seale: Call to Ban Deer and Elk Farming is Scaremongering

August 12, 2015

Laurie Seale: Call to ban deer and elk farming is scaremongering
Wisconsin State Journal
August 11, 2015

Dear Editor: The call by Darrel Rowledge to ban deer and elk farming is based scaremongering, not facts. Game farms are tightly regulated to prevent the spread of diseases such as Chronic Wasting Disease. Farms must individually track animals and conduct disease monitoring mandated by the state. Any farm that ships deer across state lines must abide by federal CWD regulations administered by the USDA and state agencies, which require testing of 100 percent of all mortalities over one year of age for CWD, with no positive tests for a minimum of five years. In fact, the vast majority of the industry has been on this level of testing for over 10 years. Further, all Wisconsin hunting ranches are required to submit yearly reports that include all animals harvested and tested for CWD.

The regulations work. USDA data collected between 1998 and 2012 show that the prevalence of CWD is significantly less on deer and elk farms than among free-ranging deer and elk. Farmers don’t want any diseases on their farms and work tirelessly to ensure the health of their animals — they’d go out of business if they did anything different.

The threat of CWD to people and the wild deer herd in Wisconsin is overstated. There have been no documented cases of CWD affecting humans or livestock. Meanwhile, researchers at UW determined that CWD has not appeared to affect the state's wild population of deer.

Getting rid of game farms would hurt rural economies, but it wouldn’t have an effect on the fight against CWD. CWD is being spread by free-roaming deer across the country in an uncontrolled environment. Tools such as disease-testing help mitigate the spread of the disease, but aren’t being utilized enough by the state. It’s not the ultimate solution to containing CWD, but more testing is a good place to start.

Laurie Seale
Whitetails of Wisconsin

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