Deer farmer discusses chronic wasting disease

Editor:

As a deer farmer and member of the Whitetail Deer Farmers of Ohio, I take exception to part of the article in your Dec. 26 issue concerning chronic wasting disease.

Whereas most of the article was well written, the quote from Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center scientist, Srinand Sreevatsan, stating, “Most cases of CWD have been found among captive animals,” is, in fact, an error.

Most cases of chronic wasting disease have been found in wild deer, not in captive deer.

To give a brief history of the progression of the disease: In 1967, a state-owned test facility in Fort Collins, Colo., sold or gave infected animals to the Denver zoo and released others into the wild.

The Denver zoo gave some to the Toronto zoo as well as to a deer farmer in South Dakota.

These were captive, wild mule deer and elk that were given away after the facility was aware of a disease problem.

As of about six months ago, all chronic wasting disease cases had been traced back to this facility.

Colorado was also the first state to diagnose CWD in their wild herd.

The state with the highest incidence of the disease is Wyoming. Interestingly enough, Wyoming does not allow game farming.

Farmers who raise captive deer in the United States are well aware of the chronic wasting disease problem and are taking action to help eradicate the disease. Many states, including Ohio, have started testing programs to look for the disease in captive deer as well as in their wild herds.

But deer farmers are also getting tired of taking the blame for the spread of the disease when many of the facts say otherwise.

Misstatements like the one made by Sreevatsan continue to spread the false belief that chronic wasting disease is a captive deer problem.

Deer farmers have a huge interest in having healthy herds, and it is a fact that our deer are much better fed, cared for and observed for health problems than any wild deer.

Steve Laughlin

Magnolia, OH

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