Disease Fuels Debate Between Conservation Dept. and Deer Industry

4 years 8 months 6 hours ago Monday, November 18 2013 Nov 18, 2013 Monday, November 18, 2013 5:24:00 PM CST November 18, 2013 in News
By: Rachel Wittel, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

AUXVASSE - Chronic wasting disease (CWD) threatens the state's whitetail deer population, but those who raise the deer for sport and breeding question the seriousness of the threat and the tactics used by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to prevent its spread.

MDC considers the disease to always be fatal in deer. It is caused by an abnormal protein, which eventually deteriorates the animal's brain. The disease can be compared to Alzheimer's in humans. But there is no known connection between CWD and any disease found in humans or other livestock.

The president of the Missouri Whitetail Breeders and Hunting Ranch Association (MWBHRA) said the conservation department is blowing this disease out of proportion.

"I think you can no longer put the label on the captive whitetail deer that they're unhealthy," Charles James said. "I think they're healthier than the free-ranging deer. They're healthier than most livestock in Missouri and most livestock in the United States."

James isn't only the MWBHRA president, but is also a former MU wildlife biology professor, and owns nearly 150 deer at his own private hunting and breeding ranch. His group began intensive testing for their animals more than a decade ago.

"We started the CWD program in 2001," James said. "We've started the tuberculosis program. We've started the brucellosis program...things that over the last 10 years have made our industry a lot healthier, made our deer a lot healthier."

Although MDC says CWD is fatal, hunters and breeders question the validity of that statement because the only positive cases for the disease have been found in dead deer.

"The department's only telling half the story," James said.

James said no deer has technically died from the disease because it's only been found in dead ones. There has not been a live test yet to track the disease's entire course.

"In clinical studies, where we've seen deer that are exhibiting signs of chronic wasting disease, where they're starting to get emaciated, tremors, excessive salivation, starvation, drooping of the head, rather than let that disease run its course, which we know the final outcome, those animals are being put down," MDC Field Protection Chief Randy Doman said.

The conservation department said it has tested more than 38,000 free-ranging and captive deer since 2001, but James isn't sure if that sample size is big enough to accurately represent Missouri's 1.2 million deer.

"They're only looking in the endemic zones and around," James said. "They're not looking statewide for CWD at this time. They're still doing the lymph nodes from harvested animals around the state at a significance level way below the ability to find it."

 MDC said it is focusing on Macon and Linn counties because, out of 21 positive cases of CWD in north-central Missouri, most of them were found there.

"We're working in cooperation with local land owners up there and hunters to test more deer in that specific area in Linn and Macon counties to effectively contain the outbreak of CWD," Doman said.

This additional testing costs deer ranchers up to one hundred dollars per head. James said his group wants to find a less expensive way to test for CWD, but there doesn't seem to be a way out.

"The only herd plan that they've implemented in the past is been to remove all the animals, and there's been no federal indemnity money, so that's a voluntary thing," James said. "You can't force somebody to remove all their animals without paying them for it. A live test would certainly help because then we could go test the rest of the herd, but since there's no live test that's been proved yet, the only thing is to put the rest of the animals down."

Not only does it cost breeders their livelihood if a positive case is found on their ranch, but the state's deer hunting industry is at stake of losing big bucks. Deer hunting in Missouri employs about 12,000 people and brings in a billion dollars to the state's economy. MDC worries that if CWD continues spreading, the loss of the deer population would end hunting for nearly half a million people who target deer in this state each year.

"We're trying to be proactive addressing this issue now rather than waiting to be reactive later," Doman said.

Although these efforts could benefit the state's economy in the long run, the deer breeders group thinks the conservation has something against them.

"I think they have some hidden agendas where they don't like our industry, and they're trying to bully our industry around a little bit," James said.

James said this could also be caused by a feud between MDC and the Department of Agriculture regarding disease control, but MDC discounted that charge.

The conservation department has held eight public meetings throughout the state to inform breeders and hunters about CWD. For more information about the disease, visit its website.

More News

Grid
List
The Cole County Sheriff’s Department responded to possible weapons violation on Thursday night. When the officers arrived to the... More >>
3 minutes ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 11:47:00 AM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
(AP) - President Donald Trump has indicated that he's willing to hit every product imported from China with tariffs and... More >>
2 hours ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 8:52:00 AM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
BRANSON - A press conference was held Friday morning following Thursday's fatal boat capsizing at Table Rock Lake. Authorities... More >>
4 hours ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 7:23:00 AM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
BRANSON (AP) — The Latest on a deadly tourist boat accident in Missouri (all times local): 7:59 a.m. ... More >>
4 hours ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 7:16:00 AM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
BRANSON - The recent boat incident that killed 11 and injured seven in Branson isn't the first time Ride the... More >>
9 hours ago Friday, July 20 2018 Jul 20, 2018 Friday, July 20, 2018 2:06:00 AM CDT July 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Thursday evening around 9:00 pm, two cars collided head-on at the intersection of Worley St. and W. Boulevard.... More >>
12 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 11:14:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia confirmed Friday the household hazardous waste collection is cancelled. The waste collection was... More >>
13 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 10:16:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- More illnesses have been reported across the United States in two separate cyclospora outbreaks, federal health officials said... More >>
14 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 9:31:35 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
BRANSON - The Stone County Sheriff has confirmed that Missouri State Highway Patrol diving searches have ended for the night... More >>
14 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 9:12:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- Gun-rights activists have reached a settlement with the government that... More >>
14 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 8:57:04 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Loop CID met with the Planning and Zoning Committee Thursday night to discuss future plans for Business... More >>
16 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 7:46:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri House Minority Floor Leader Gail McCann Beatty will resign later this week to take a job... More >>
16 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 6:55:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
DES MOINES, Iowa - Pella Regional Health Center spokeswoman Billie Rhamy confirmed Thursday evening injuries were minor and all patients... More >>
17 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 6:49:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in Continuous News
(CNN) - President Donald Trump hopes to welcome Russian President Vladimir Putin in Washington this fall, White House press secretary... More >>
18 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 5:09:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Planned Parenthood advocates demonstrated a mock health care waiting room in Governor Parson's office Thursday. The... More >>
19 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 4:16:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has charged a former Greenville city clerk with stealing more than... More >>
20 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 3:07:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — State conservation officials say six black bears have died after being hit by vehicles in Missouri... More >>
20 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 3:02:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
ALBANY (AP) — Prosecutors say a northern Missouri man and woman subjected an 11-year-old girl to nearly a year of... More >>
20 hours ago Thursday, July 19 2018 Jul 19, 2018 Thursday, July 19, 2018 2:54:00 PM CDT July 19, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 87°
12pm 88°
1pm 90°
2pm 92°
3pm 92°