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Deer Hunting Culture National Story NAW+ News

Deer Farms: Hunting’s Ticking Time Bomb

by David Hart   |  July 27th, 2014 25
Illustration by Mike O'Brien

Illustration by Mike O’Brien

They have names like X-Factor, Rambo, Powerpoint, and Stonecold. They bear freakishly large, even grotesquely shaped, antlers, and they walk as if they might tip over from the weight of that bone. They aren’t just deer, they are genetically engineered, farm-raised, super-freak whitetails. They are also the center of a growing controversy.

For Quality Deer Management Association Director of Education & Outreach Kip Adams, they are nothing but the biggest threat to wild whitetails and the deer hunting culture. The deer-farming industry smears ethical, fair-chase hunters, he says, and is likely the vector for chronic wasting disease (CWD).

“Our main concern is the unregulated transport of farm-raised deer across state lines. The potential for disease transmission is incredibly high, and it poses a very real threat to wild deer,” says Adams. “Chronic wasting disease is already found in one-quarter of all wild whitetail bucks in parts of Wisconsin. That’s up substantially from just a few years ago. We [biologists] don’t want to see similar rates in other states.”

So far, there is no proof that CWD has spread from captive deer and elk farms to wild animals. The circumstantial evidence, however, is compelling. At least 10 wild Missouri whitetails tested positive for CWD. All were within a 29-square-mile area surrounding two captive herds that tested positive for the disease.

“Almost every state that has CWD in wild cervids also has captive deer farms. There are many, many examples of the disease showing up in wild deer near infected pens,” says Adams. “It may be impossible to prove a link, but we know that captive deer escape on a regular basis, and we know that CWD has been found at a number of farms that were thought to be disease-free.”

North American Deer Farmers Association Executive Director Shawn Schafer disputes the disease link. He also says virtually every deer that escapes is recaptured.

“We established a certification program where we test our animals for various diseases. Our deer have not one but two unique identification numbers. Not one time has a diseased animal been moved by a captive breeder,” he says. “We monitor our herds, and we test animals when they die. We also have strict fencing guidelines to prevent deer from escaping, although it does happen occasionally, mostly through human error.”

The testing is largely voluntary, though, and a report by the Missouri Department of Conservation found that just 131 of 300 state breeders monitor their animals for disease.

Despite the growing controversy that surrounds it, the captive deer industry is booming. Schafer says it generated an economic impact of $4 billion in 2013, up from $3 billion in 2006. There are an estimated 10,000 deer and elk farms throughout the United States and Canada, although many states prohibit these types of facilities. Minnesota has over 700 deer farms, and Pennsylvania and Texas each have around 1,000.

Schafer says deer farmers are no different than those who raise cattle, chickens, or hogs. The animals are their livelihoods, and they strive to keep them healthy if for nothing else than to protect their bottom line. Whitetails, bucks in particular, are bred through a selection process much the same way cattle breeders create near-perfect specimens through genetic engineering.

The goal is to produce freakishly large antlers, larger than anything ever produced in the wild. Maxbo, a buck raised on a Missouri farm, scored 180 inches under the Boone & Crockett scoring system the first year he bore antlers and 358 inches the following year. The antlers of another buck named Dream On scored 262 inches as a yearling. Individual does sell for as much as $7,500.

The animals are raised for a variety of reasons, although a large part of the market appears to be breeders selling semen and does to other farmers, who then engineer their own enormous bucks so they can sell the semen to other farmers. Semen “straws,” which contain enough fluid to impregnate two or three does, can sell for thousands of dollars.

Schafer says there is a growing market for meat, which is typically sold to high-end restaurants as well as jerky manufacturers. Most farm-raised venison destined for butcher shops and restaurants is still imported from New Zealand, but that’s gradually changing.

“The demand for urine is huge. Where do you think all those bottles of Tink’s and Code Blue come from?” says Schafer. “There is also a growing demand for hard antlers for things like chandeliers and even dog chews. The soft antler market is growing pretty quick, too. Deer farmers are clearly fulfilling a demand.”

Many of the bucks, however, are raised just for the high-fence hunting industry where hunters often pay fees based entirely on antler size. Prices can run more than $20,000 for the largest bucks. In some cases, hunters can select individual animals from a website as if they were choosing from an a la carte menu. Schafer, however, says those giant bucks are the exception in the captive deer hunting industry.

“The bread-and-butter of most of these ranches are the 150-, 160-inch deer, which is what many hunters expect when they hunt free-range deer in places like Kansas, Illinois, and Iowa,” he says. “Our members provide a service for hunters who may not have the time necessary to have a successful hunt or access to quality land. These ranches offer a quality hunt, which is what everyone wants, isn’t it?”

If the animals are raised and bred through a process that parallels the livestock industry but then released in pens to be shot by hunters, who should regulate the industry? Are these deer wild animals or livestock? It’s a question that is working its way through the legislative process in many states. The deer-farm lobby has attempted and failed at least twice to pass legislation classifying their industry as agricultural. Adams, however, says they should be treated and regulated as wildlife. Schafer argues they are livestock and thus should not be regulated by state wildlife agencies, even if they are shot under the guise of hunting.

The issue may be nothing more than a matter of semantics, but the notion of shooting a buck nurtured by human hands and then released into a small enclosure raises serious ethical questions. Adams says these “canned” hunts, which can be widely publicized because of the controversy, are how many non-hunters judge all hunting. They don’t know the difference. Although 79 percent of all Americans support sport hunting in general, just 20 percent support hunting inside high fences, according to a survey conducted by research firm Responsive Management.

The QDMA is not opposed to high-fence hunts, but Adams says operations that release genetically engineered deer into small enclosures that are in no way natural or offer a chance of escape are a stain on the entire hunting community.

“Hunters make up just 6 percent of the country’s population. We can’t afford to risk our reputation on what takes place on these deer farms,” says Adams.

He admits they are likely here to stay, even with all the issues that surround them. Despite growing calls for tighter regulations or even an outright ban on captive deer operations by the QDMA and other conservation groups, the industry is actually lobbying for and winning relaxed rules or expanded opportunities for deer farming. Idaho recently reduced mandatory CWD testing for all farmed elk that die to just 10 percent of those that die from all other causes. Other states are poised to ease disease testing requirements or restrictions on the size of hunting enclosures.

That’s a step in the wrong direction, says Adams. Deer farming is little more than a ticking time bomb that could spell disaster for wild deer everywhere. Despite assurances from the captive deer industry, the disease threat is real and one that can not be dismissed. According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, deer hunters spent more than $18 billion in 2011 and had an economic impact of nearly $40 billion.

“Chronic wasting disease is now found in nearly one-quarter of all wild whitetail bucks 2½ years old and older in parts of Wisconsin. That’s up from a 7 or 8 percent infection rate in 2002. We [biologists] don’t want to see similar rates in other states,” says Adams. “It was recently discovered in wild whitetails in Iowa for the first time, also. Is it worth the risk?”

  • Johnny

    One of the most feared sentence in the USA today…
    “growing calls for tighter regulations or even an outright ban”
    I can see all the empty heads all nodding now…..with some dumba** politician declaring “we must do something” and erosion of more rights decided by non-sportsmen, heck, maybe they can create a whole new Department -Off-?, hire hundreds of anti-hunters, Vegans, PETA types.. what will be there next big unlegislated solution.

    How about the local jurisdictions getting some of that money for hunting licenses and fix as a local issue. This article seems to be written by someone who things Big-gov is not big and intrusive enough, and regulation can somehow improve something.. gees look around.

    • Grady

      We had game farms here in Montana until CWD was discovered in a Deer Farm. Then the PEOPLE voted on an initiative to outlaw them. Before that one of the Elk Ranchers bragged in an article about how his people would drive a hunter around in a few hundred acres for several hours before going to where they knew the elk would be so they could have a “quality” hunt. Yeah right. And I remember an incident over in Idaho a few years ago when a bear tore a hole in a double fence and a bunch of pen raised elk escaped. The owner was complaining that the Fish and Game allowed hunters to go in the area to kill any elk they saw even though he admitted he did not know if he had recaptured all of them or not. The game ranchers are only after the money and will say anything they have to to justify their business, just the same as the ranchers who charge people to hunt on their land for game that belongs to the people to start with. It is all about the money……

  • Hunter

    If the animals are in a contained area as cattle and hogs are then a are privately owned. Are these deer which are being sold as livestock to be killed in a confined area under any state or federal regulation. Does anyone really know how many are killed for how much profit. Are these deer farmers taxes as the cattle and hog farmers are . I doubt it.
    In many of the fenced killing farms a shooter does not even need to own a firearm , one will be provided for them. This killer does not even need a liciense in some states. The only person gaining from the killing of the animal is the person who owns the animal. They are purely killers not hunters. As far as what the farmers are doing to produce the large antlers , you mess with mother nature long enough she will bite you in the ass for the long run .

    • Outdoorsman70

      Injecting drugs and not paying taxes… YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU”RE TALKING ABOUT! The fact that you have no problem spewing nonsense that you CLEARLY are not educated on tells me all I need to know about you. Your credibility rating = ZERO. Congratulations!

  • farmer

    Does David Hart know what genetic engineering is? If he is referring to a large antlered buck being crossed with a doe from unrelated stock that has bloodlines that contribute some of the same characteristics – THAT IS NOT GENETIC ENGINEERING. That is what farmers and ranchers have been doing since time immemorial – crossing two unrelated animals to improve the desirable traits in their herd. Why should deer farmers not do the same? If Mr. Hart has examples of REAL genetic manipulation other than standard breeding practices in deer herds he should explain what they are – not just recklessly throw bombshell terms around to elicit an emotional response from readers. To do so is giving antis ammunition and is giving those who practice the noble vocation of animal husbandry a black eye. If Mr. Hart thinks deer ranches should be shut down, shame on him. He is no better than those who would take our guns.

  • hunter

    To Mr Farmer
    Cattle farmers did it to develop a stronger healthy animal. They did it to help offset disease and may other concerns the cattle have. Yes in the long run they did have a better animal which paid more at the market . They also did this to feed the world not to sell a animal which looks deformed to a person calling themselves a hunter to kill in a pin. Deer farmers either inject or feed the animal with drugs causing the horn to grow more in 1 year the a wild animal ever would. The bodies of most of your pen raised animals a very small . You alter the growth for horn and horn only.
    I ask you this question . Are you deer fit for human consumption.

    • Chris

      What size pen would be acceptable as fair-chase? I can’t argue that shooting an animal in a cage is unsportsmanlike. But, what if that pen is 100 acres, 1,000 acres, 10,000 acres? I own part of a 1,023 acre ranch, which is high-fenced. We have a few tagged bucks that have been released. We only bowhunt. Is this fair chase? I can tell you that bowhunting a 1,023-acre ranch for good bucks is far from the concept of hunting in a pen. Should I not be able to manage the deer herd to its potential? Can I not release some superior bucks on the ranch to breed the pasture does? In our area, I cannot manage a 1,023-acre ranch without a high fence. The neighbors on two sides shoot young bucks, not letting them reach their potential.

      • Chuck

        In my opinion, any pen voids fair chase. It’s a principal that many hunters adhere to. I don’t condemn you for enclosing your deer, but it’s not fair chase to me regardless of your pen size. Do you raise the deer from birth to a mature age and then release it in the spring prior to your fall hunt? If that’s the case, the animal isn’t even wild in my opinion. Isn’t that typical practice among the many farmers in the country?

        I’m sorry, but neighbors shooting young bucks is called pressure. I think you and perhaps others don’t realize is that you have no more right to manage a wild deer to their potential than your neighbor. Those deer are owned by the state in which they reside. Every hunter pays to manage those deer with license fees. Your neighbors have every right to shoot a button buck. You may not like it, but that’s the reality we all face. Hunting pressure is common and pretty much every hunter deals with it. Besides, there are many circumstances that prevent bucks from reaching their potential other hunter pressure. Predation, vehicle collisions, disease, drought, are just a few.

        • BUCKCHASER

          You have that correct about hunting pressure, although I would call it poor management. That is why land owners choose to high fence. They are tired of every one with a gun or bow shooting everything with hair. It is their rite, but it’s the landowners rite is to high fence to control the harvest. Deer released in the wild or into a high fenced ranch will wild up with no problem in short order. They are wild animals by nature and Mother Nature knows best. If you have ever hunted a high fenced ranch that was properly managed you would see that.

          • Chuck

            Let’s not kid ourselves. Landowners choose to high fence for money, first and foremost. It’s not a $1 billion industry founded on “management” alone. An animal born in captivity and then raised to maturity in captivity is not wild. It certainly doesn’t become wild in short order after being “released” into a larger pen.

          • BUCKCHASER

            With all due respect. Unless you own a high fenced ranch and have released bucks you would be making assumptions without experience or facts. We do it every year and have seen deer after deer wild in no time. That is inherent in their nature. First off these “Tame pen raised deer” that so many talk about are still wild animals and will revert to the natural enviorment. There are very few buck that will not get crazy when the antlers stop growing. This is from actual experience talking. If someone has seen otherwise I would suggest that would be the exception and not the rule.
            Your other assumption about high fencing for profit could not be further from the truth. I was tired of never being able to hunt a decent whitetail on my property. We tried the co-op with my neighbors and it yealded zero results. It was their rite to shoot anything but it was my rite to high fence my property. It was at a cost of over $100 grand and was 4 years before we thought about selling hunts. I’m a blue collar worker and had to borrow the money to pay for the land and fencing and all the related costs. I will not live long enough to probably pay it off. So please spare me and the vast majority that are in this bussiness the rhetoric about how the rich are doing this for the money. By the way, I am the “rule” not the “exception”.


      Most certainly they are fit for human consumption. Let me explain it very simply. There are no drugs that will enhance antlers. Numerous studies have shown that any kind of hormones/steroids RETARD antler production. NO STUDIES HAVE EVER, EVER PROVEN OTHERWISE.
      Hopefully that’s simple enough.
      As far as body size, you breed that into in deer just like other animals. Selective breeding also improves the health and disease resistance. Imagine that, no drugs necessary. It’s simply the breeding.
      As far as antlers go your opinion on the look of the antler is your own and I’m sure is shared by other like minded individuals, but there are a greater majority that enjoy, and would give anything to have a shot at what you call a “deformed” deer.
      We could also go on all day about what a “Hunter” is, but there are too many variables that only a reasonable person could understand.

  • farmer

    What you are describing is a far cry from genetic manipulation that Mr. Hart proclaimed was going on. If they are feeding or injecting the animals with hormones, I don’t think that is a putting a heritable trait in an animal that Hart claims will destroy the integrity of the wild herd in this country. It merely allows the individual animal to express its full genetic potential to grow bone. All individual animals have “hidden” traits that can be expressed especially if they are not subjected to the rigors of foraging on their own in the wild. How do you know that the relatively stress free life that penned animals have compared to wild individuals is not largely responsible for extra horn development?

    In addition, I thought that we lived in a country where people could be free to capitalize on demands in the marketplace. Obviously, there is a demand in the marketplace or deer farms would disappear. Deer hunters with a holier than thou attitude about deer farms amuse me. They complain about someone trying to make an honest living while they plant food plots, feed corn and minerals to wild deer, and proclaim the gospel of QDMA. What’s the difference? Would you rather have this guy be an anti just because he doesn’t follow the rules you and writers like Hart say must be followed? This is the enlightened crowd that has made deer hunting a rich mans sport. If you aren’t rich or the employee of a sporting goods company you can’t afford to hunt on prime ground – it is all under lease. I’m not complaining – that is a part of our free enterprise society. I don’t want anyone messing with my opportunity to make a living, so I’ll not follow Hart’s example and throw someone under the bus rather than try to understand his way of life

  • Keyser Söze

    Sadly, the commercialization of hunting has darn near driven up prices to the point where hunting is simply out of reach for the ordinary middle-class American.

  • Carter Mckinney

    you simply cant engineer food sources for wild animals to pull them in. I have always thought this is wrong and canned hunts. yes you feed them and people they they are doing good to keep herd number strong because it keeps populations on your property.. but is that really hunting? I do not think so and all these engineered food sources . no matter how well the intentions,have effects on natural habitat and food something wrong with with good old fashioned beans corn and persimmons? quality natural foods. if you want deer on your property plant more of the natural food they like. no more engineered mixes

  • Derp

    QDMA is a bigger threat to hunting for the common person than deer farms ever will be.


    I always find it fascinating how people can question others in a legimiate business. Fortunately as deer breeders we were blessed with patience. We have the patience to wait for our fawns to be born, patience to wait for the antlers to grow, patience to to stay with a sick deer or fawn, sometimes through the night, and even the patience to deal with the truly ignorant. We put up with all of this because of our love for these animals that the ignorant will never, or refuse to understand.
    Much of their “Holier than Thou” attitude tests our patience yet we endure. They condemn the Hunter (yes, they are Hunters) that choose to hunt the high fenced ranches because they they think they are lazy and rich. No thought is put into that these Hunters may have limited time or resources to go and find a lease. The vast majority of my hunters are hard working Americans that want an enjoyable and memorable hunting experience. One of the reasons I made the stretch to purchase a ranch was because I got tired of putting up with all the politics of a deer lease. To that point, it was my decision to do so. If I didn’t like what was going on, I didn’t have to do it, but you won’t hear me condemning those that do, because it is their rite as Americans. This is a land of choices.
    I was in the automotive business for over 40 years. Although I didn’t sell vehicles, because I was on the parts and service side, one fact was always clear, the person that owned the Hyundai was just as proud as the guy that owned the Lexus. It was what their budget allowed. The same goes for Hunters, all of us hope that day will come when we are lucky enough or financially able to harvest that buck of a life time. My favorite buck still hangs in my office in a place of honor right next to many considerably larger bucks. It’s a 6 point buck and was my first buck harvest. You would have thought by my reaction I had killed the world record whitetail. I was alone in the stand and a guest on a lease of one of my very good friends, but it would not have mattered one bit if it had been high fenced, low fenced or no fence.
    To change the quote “It’s the economy stupid” to “It’s the experience stupid” would hopefully help the ignorant understand, but I’m sorry to say it probably won’t.
    I know the term ignorant may offend some and that is not my intent, but here is the definition just to be clear: “Lacking in knowledge or training; unlearned”. See that’s not so bad. Ignorance is understandable, continued ignorance over and over on the same subject is not. It’s a persons rite to voice their opinion, my suggestion to the ignorant is to go to a social media page where you opinion would matter to the rest of the ignoramuses. That way you can bask in the glory of your thoughts with other like minded individuals, and leave the rest of us to our well educated thoughts and facts.

    • Alex Martin

      Considering that the whole argument about its validity to hunting
      centers on success rates, I’d say there is a substantial difference. The reason most high fenced hunts are condemned by legitimate hunters is that on most of these high fence areas, success is essentially guaranteed. I can’t speak to whether or not your operation provides the same guaranteed, but let’s face, most high fenced hunts do. This is why the high fenced shooter gets no respect from the mainstream hunter (or non-hunter), because the legitimacy of the challenge is eliminated. Though many may hunt for sustenance, most of us do it for the
      sake of challenge. As its name would thus imply, hunting is therefore, a game. Here is the thing. Games have no meaning or legitimacy without the prospect of non-success. If I play a game of checkers against my friend, but my friend is not allowed to make any moves, then what have I accomplished? “Nothing” is the answer. Your assertion that “the vast majority of my hunters are hard working Americans that want an enjoyable and memorable hunting experience” is correct. What you are missing (or ignoring), is that what makes the experience memorable to us is the challenge. The fact that most of these operations remove
      any real prospect of failure, and thus the challenge, takes the enjoyment and memory right out of the equation for most of us. As is often said about gamers who use cheats to win, you may as well write “mighty dragon” on a piece of paper, cross it out, and then claim you accomplished something. That is after all, the point of these farms, to take those “with limited resources” and guarantee (or greatly increase) their chance of a kill with little to no time investment on their own part.

      Limited time resources? Give me a break. You think I don’t
      work for a living either? You think I have all the time in the world to frolic
      in the woods? My resources are fairly limited as well (I’d venture to guess more limited that any of your clients). I have to drive 100 miles to hunt where I do, with pretty low chances of success (10-20 percent) to boot. As a proud wacko who hunted for years and countless hours to get my first deer (didn’t even see one till 3 years in), take your idea about “limited resources” and cry me a river. You want to know why you guys have such a shoddy images in the eyes of most people? Your statement that all of us, “hope that day will come when we are lucky enough or financially able to harvest that buck of
      a life time” sums it right up. I get that you meant it in reference to leases, but let’s face it, it applies to high fences to, whether you have the money to build one, or access it. The ability to harvest a real trophy (determined by its rarity and difficulty, both of which high fences remove) should come down to the skills of the hunter. Yes, having money will always help, that rings true in all things. But with high fence hunts, it becomes the ONLY factor.

      You are right about one thing. This is America, the land
      of choices. Any citizen is free to pursue what makes them happy or successful in their own eyes. Personally, I don’t think banning high fenced hunts is the answer, nor would it be desirable. It’s none of my business how others choose to spend their money. You are free to run whatever operation you wish.

      By that same token, I am under no obligation to give you
      any respect. You’re free to spend your resources and run your business, and I’m free to believe that such an operation has zero bearing on the realities of hunting. You can call them hunters, and I can call them clients. They are free to shoot your livestock, and I’m free to think that would be a waste of money.

      • chuk

        Very well said, sir!


        Alex, you seemed to miss the point of my post.
        First I don’t give a dam about your respect for me as an outfitter, hunter or breeder. Nor do I care about the opinions of any like minded individuals like yourself. All I care about is my animals, and my hunters and the look in their eyes when they are lucky enough to harvest a deer. You see they are blue collar as well as white collar workers that have decided to make an intelligent, well thought out plan to come hunt at these ranches. Regardless of what you think.
        They sit in stands, both elevated and ground blinds and “hunt” just like I assume you and other hunters like you do. They stalk and rattle up deer just like all hunters do. They have to get up early, prepare to gun or bow hunt and also suffer the disappointment of not seeing any deer, not seeing a buck they can take, or missing a shot if the time comes. That is hunting no matter what you think.
        Also there are no guarranties on any high fenced ranch in my state of Texas that I know of and I know the majority of them pretty well. I spend countless hours reviewing other ranches so I know what my competition is. That’s called “good business.”That “Guarranty” statement you made is a bunch of BS that is used many times, but saying it over and over does not make it true. The one thing I will never promise is something I cannot deliver and if you think for one minute I can control what deer come to the stands you are sadly mistaken and must not be familiar with wild game.
        As far as limited time resources go, I’m not looking for your understanding on that either. Your situation is your situation. It’s unfortunate but it’s the way your cards were dealt. Your low sucess rate is probably a result of over-hunting (exactly why there is high fence) or you need to develop a different hunting process that will improve your chances. Or you could always try a high fenced operation since you seem to think its guarranted!

  • mike

    Points to ponder:
    Who is to say that manipulating genetics to breed these enormous antlers bucks isn’t flooding the gene pool with a negative trait that is not as obvious as big antlers. Semen of pen raised trophy bucks is used to breed hundreds of does and the genetics are passed on exponentially through following generations.
    Who is to say that bucks with these enormous antlers could actually survive in the wild as well, for instance in the mountains where eluding predators is of greater importance and food sources are not as abundant.

  • chuck

    I would never hunt high fence, but I don’t condemn those that choose so. To each his own. I will say that if the farmers wish to call it hunting, as well as their patrons since that seems to be the divide, then they should be regulated by their state’s wildlife agency and not their ag agency.

  • Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

    DEFRA U.K. What is the risk of Chronic Wasting Disease CWD being introduced
    into Great Britain? A Qualitative Risk Assessment October 2012


    In the USA, under the Food and Drug Administration’s BSE Feed Regulation
    (21 CFR 589.2000) most material (exceptions include milk, tallow, and gelatin)
    from deer and elk is prohibited for use in feed for ruminant animals. With
    regards to feed for non-ruminant animals, under FDA law, CWD positive deer may
    not be used for any animal feed or feed ingredients. For elk and deer considered
    at high risk for CWD, the FDA recommends that these animals do not enter the
    animal feed system. However, this recommendation is guidance and not a
    requirement by law.

    Animals considered at high risk for CWD include:

    1) animals from areas declared to be endemic for CWD and/or to be CWD
    eradication zones and

    2) deer and elk that at some time during the 60-month period prior to
    slaughter were in a captive herd that contained a CWD-positive animal.

    Therefore, in the USA, materials from cervids other than CWD positive
    animals may be used in animal feed and feed ingredients for non-ruminants.

    The amount of animal PAP that is of deer and/or elk origin imported from
    the USA to GB can not be determined, however, as it is not specified in TRACES.
    It may constitute a small percentage of the 8412 kilos of non-fish origin
    processed animal proteins that were imported from US into GB in 2011.

    Overall, therefore, it is considered there is a __greater than negligible
    risk___ that (nonruminant) animal feed and pet food containing deer and/or elk
    protein is imported into GB.

    There is uncertainty associated with this estimate given the lack of data
    on the amount of deer and/or elk protein possibly being imported in these


    36% in 2007 (Almberg et al., 2011). In such areas, population declines of
    deer of up to 30 to 50% have been observed (Almberg et al., 2011). In areas of
    Colorado, the prevalence can be as high as 30% (EFSA, 2011).

    The clinical signs of CWD in affected adults are weight loss and
    behavioural changes that can span weeks or months (Williams, 2005). In addition,
    signs might include excessive salivation, behavioural alterations including a
    fixed stare and changes in interaction with other animals in the herd, and an
    altered stance (Williams, 2005). These signs are indistinguishable from cervids
    experimentally infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

    Given this, if CWD was to be introduced into countries with BSE such as GB,
    for example, infected deer populations would need to be tested to differentiate
    if they were infected with CWD or BSE to minimise the risk of BSE entering the
    human food-chain via affected venison.


    The rate of transmission of CWD has been reported to be as high as 30% and
    can approach 100% among captive animals in endemic areas (Safar et al., 2008).


    In summary, in endemic areas, there is a medium probability that the soil
    and surrounding environment is contaminated with CWD prions and in a
    bioavailable form. In rural areas where CWD has not been reported and deer are
    present, there is a greater than negligible risk the soil is contaminated with
    CWD prion.


    In summary, given the volume of tourists, hunters and servicemen moving
    between GB and North America, the probability of at least one person travelling
    to/from a CWD affected area and, in doing so, contaminating their clothing,
    footwear and/or equipment prior to arriving in GB is greater than negligible.
    For deer hunters, specifically, the risk is likely to be greater given the
    increased contact with deer and their environment. However, there is significant
    uncertainty associated with these estimates.


    Therefore, it is considered that farmed and park deer may have a higher
    probability of exposure to CWD transferred to the environment than wild deer
    given the restricted habitat range and higher frequency of contact with tourists
    and returning GB residents.



    Friday, December 14, 2012

    DEFRA U.K. What is the risk of Chronic Wasting Disease CWD being introduced
    into Great Britain? A Qualitative Risk Assessment October 2012

    *** The potential impact of prion diseases on human health was greatly
    magnified by the recognition that interspecies transfer of BSE to humans by beef
    ingestion resulted in vCJD. While changes in animal feed constituents and
    slaughter practices appear to have curtailed vCJD, there is concern that CWD of
    free-ranging deer and elk in the U.S. might also cross the species barrier.
    Thus, consuming venison could be a source of human prion disease. Whether BSE
    and CWD represent interspecies scrapie transfer or are newly arisen prion
    diseases is unknown. Therefore, the possibility of transmission of prion disease
    through other food animals cannot be ruled out. There is evidence that vCJD can
    be transmitted through blood transfusion. There is likely a pool of unknown size
    of asymptomatic individuals infected with vCJD, and there may be asymptomatic
    individuals infected with the CWD equivalent. These circumstances represent a
    potential threat to blood, blood products, and plasma supplies.

    cwd exposure, and iatrogenic CJD, what if ???

    *** our results raise the possibility that CJD cases classified as VV1 may
    include cases caused by iatrogenic transmission of sCJD-MM1 prions or food-borne
    infection by type 1 prions from animals, e.g., chronic wasting disease prions in
    cervid. In fact, two CJD-VV1 patients who hunted deer or consumed venison have
    been reported (40, 41). The results of the present study emphasize the need for
    traceback studies and careful re-examination of the biochemical properties of
    sCJD-VV1 prions. ***

    snip…see full text ;

    Thursday, January 2, 2014

    *** CWD TSE Prion in cervids to hTGmice, Heidenhain Variant
    Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease MM1 genotype, and iatrogenic CJD ??? ***

    *** We hypothesize that both BSE prions and CWD prions passaged through
    felines will seed human recPrP more efficiently than BSE or CWD from the
    original hosts, evidence that the new host will dampen the species barrier
    between humans and BSE or CWD. The new host effect is particularly relevant as
    we investigate potential means of trans-species transmission of prion disease.

    Tuesday, November 04, 2014

    *** Six-year follow-up of a point-source exposure to CWD contaminated
    venison in an Upstate New York community: risk behaviours and health outcomes

  • Terry S. Singeltary Sr.

    Tuesday, July 01, 2014


    Thursday, July 03, 2014

    *** How Chronic Wasting Disease is affecting deer population and what’s the
    risk to humans and pets? ***

    Thursday, October 23, 2014


    Tuesday, October 21, 2014

    *** Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Tenth Pennsylvania Captive Deer
    Tests Positive for Chronic Wasting Disease CWD TSE PRION DISEASE

    ”The occurrence of CWD must be viewed against the contest of the locations
    in which it occurred. It was an incidental and unwelcome complication of the
    respective wildlife research programmes. Despite it’s subsequent recognition as
    a new disease of cervids, therefore justifying direct investigation, no specific
    research funding was forthcoming. The USDA veiwed it as a wildlife problem and consequently not their province!” …page 26.

    Sunday, January 06, 2013


    *** “it‘s no longer its business.”

    Sunday, July 13, 2014

    Louisiana deer mystery unleashes litigation 6 does still missing from CWD
    index herd in Pennsylvania Great Escape

    Saturday, June 29, 2013


    Tuesday, June 11, 2013

    *** CWD GONE WILD, More cervid escapees from more shooting pens on the
    loose in Pennsylvania

    Wednesday, September 04, 2013

    ***cwd – cervid captive livestock escapes, loose and on the run in the

    Tuesday, October 07, 2014

    *** Wisconsin white-tailed deer tested positive for CWD on a Richland
    County breeding farm, and a case of CWD has been discovered on a Marathon County hunting preserve

    Thursday, October 02, 2014

    *** IOWA TEST RESULTS FROM CAPTIVE DEER HERD WITH CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE RELEASED 79.8 percent of the deer tested positive for the disease

    Tuesday, April 29, 2014

    CWD Herd Certification Program and Interstate Movement of Farmed or Captive Deer, Elk, and Moose FR Doc No: 2014-09714 April 29, 2014 UPDATE

    *** We conclude that TSE infectivity is likely to survive burial for long
    time periods with minimal loss of infectivity and limited movement from the
    original burial site. However PMCA results have shown that there is the
    potential for rainwater to elute TSE related material from soil which could lead
    to the contamination of a wider area. These experiments reinforce the importance of risk assessment when disposing of TSE risk materials.

    *** The results show that even highly diluted PrPSc can bind efficiently to
    polypropylene, stainless steel, glass, wood and stone and propagate the
    conversion of normal prion protein. For in vivo experiments, hamsters were ic
    injected with implants incubated in 1% 263K-infected brain homogenate. Hamsters, inoculated with 263K-contaminated implants of all groups, developed typical signs of prion disease, whereas control animals inoculated with non-contaminated materials did not.




    Conclusions. To our knowledge, this is the first established experimental
    model of CWD in TgSB3985. We found evidence for co-existence or divergence of two CWD strains adapted to Tga20 mice and their replication in TgSB3985 mice. Finally, we observed phenotypic differences between cervid-derived CWD and CWD/Tg20 strains upon propagation in TgSB3985 mice. Further studies are underway to characterize these strains.

    We conclude that TSE infectivity is likely to survive burial for long time
    periods with minimal loss of infectivity and limited movement from the original
    burial site. However PMCA results have shown that there is the potential for
    rainwater to elute TSE related material from soil which could lead to the
    contamination of a wider area. These experiments reinforce the importance of
    risk assessment when disposing of TSE risk materials.

    The results show that even highly diluted PrPSc can bind efficiently to
    polypropylene, stainless steel, glass, wood and stone and propagate the
    conversion of normal prion protein. For in vivo experiments, hamsters were ic
    injected with implants incubated in 1% 263K-infected brain homogenate. Hamsters, inoculated with 263K-contaminated implants of all groups, developed typical signs of prion disease, whereas control animals inoculated with non-contaminated materials did not.

    Our data establish that meadow voles are permissive to CWD via peripheral
    exposure route, suggesting they could serve as an environmental reservoir for
    CWD. Additionally, our data are consistent with the hypothesis that at least two
    strains of CWD circulate in naturally-infected cervid populations and provide
    evidence that meadow voles are a useful tool for CWD strain typing.

    Conclusion. CWD prions are shed in saliva and urine of infected deer as
    early as 3 months post infection and throughout the subsequent >1.5 year
    course of infection. In current work we are examining the relationship of
    prionemia to excretion and the impact of excreted prion binding to surfaces and
    particulates in the environment.

    Conclusion. CWD prions (as inferred by prion seeding activity by RT-QuIC)
    are shed in urine of infected deer as early as 6 months post inoculation and
    throughout the subsequent disease course. Further studies are in progress
    refining the real-time urinary prion assay sensitivity and we are examining more
    closely the excretion time frame, magnitude, and sample variables in
    relationship to inoculation route and prionemia in naturally and experimentally
    CWD-infected cervids.

    Conclusions. Our results suggested that the odds of infection for CWD is
    likely controlled by areas that congregate deer thus increasing direct
    transmission (deer-to-deer interactions) or indirect transmission
    (deer-to-environment) by sharing or depositing infectious prion proteins in
    these preferred habitats. Epidemiology of CWD in the eastern U.S. is likely
    controlled by separate factors than found in the Midwestern and endemic areas
    for CWD and can assist in performing more efficient surveillance efforts for the

    Conclusions. During the pre-symptomatic stage of CWD infection and
    throughout the course of disease deer may be shedding multiple LD50 doses per day in their saliva. CWD prion shedding through saliva and excreta may account for the unprecedented spread of this prion disease in nature.

    see full text and more ;

    Monday, June 23, 2014


    *** Infectious agent of sheep scrapie may persist in the environment for at
    least 16 years***

    Gudmundur Georgsson1, Sigurdur Sigurdarson2 and Paul Brown3

    New studies on the heat resistance of hamster-adapted scrapie agent:
    Threshold survival after ashing at 600°C suggests an inorganic template of

    Prion Infected Meat-and-Bone Meal Is Still Infectious after Biodiesel

    Detection of protease-resistant cervid prion protein in water from a
    CWD-endemic area

    A Quantitative Assessment of the Amount of Prion Diverted to Category 1
    Materials and Wastewater During Processing

    Rapid assessment of bovine spongiform encephalopathy prion inactivation by
    heat treatment in yellow grease produced in the industrial manufacturing process of meat and bone meals

    Survival and Limited Spread of TSE Infectivity after Burial

    Karen Fernie, Allister Smith and Robert A. Somerville The Roslin Institute
    and R(D)SVS; University of Edinburgh; Roslin, Scotland UK

    Scrapie and chronic wasting disease probably spread via environmental
    routes, and there are also concerns about BSE infection remaining in the
    environment after carcass burial or waste 3disposal. In two demonstration
    experiments we are determining survival and migration of TSE infectivity when
    buried for up to five years, as an uncontained point source or within bovine
    heads. Firstly boluses of TSE infected mouse brain were buried in lysimeters
    containing either sandy or clay soil. Migration from the boluses is being
    assessed from soil cores taken over time. With the exception of a very small
    amount of infectivity found 25 cm from the bolus in sandy soil after 12 months,
    no other infectivity has been detected up to three years. Secondly, ten bovine
    heads were spiked with TSE infected mouse brain and buried in the two soil
    types. Pairs of heads have been exhumed annually and assessed for infectivity
    within and around them. After one year and after two years, infectivity was
    detected in most intracranial samples and in some of the soil samples taken from immediately surrounding the heads. The infectivity assays for the samples in and around the heads exhumed at years three and four are underway. These data show that TSE infectivity can survive burial for long periods but migrates slowly. Risk assessments should take into account the likely long survival rate when infected material has been buried.

    The authors gratefully acknowledge funding from DEFRA.

  • Barry Boats

    doubt that these deer farms/preserves/ranch’s are a ticking time bomb. I
    have written numerous emails to ODNR and Ohio Dept of Agriculture,
    which by the way is the agency designated to supervise this industry not
    the Division of Wildlife, voicing my concern as to how these farms are
    managed, supervised by the state and the lack of land in Ohio for these
    types of farms. Ohio is the 34th largest state or the 16th smallest
    state by land area but it has the 3rd, that’s right 3rd largest captive
    deer herd in the country according to ODNR and ODA. We do not have the
    habitat for theses kinds of programs.

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