CWD Scan for Mar 16, 2020

CWD spreads in Minnesota
Taxpayers pay for CWD testing
Pennsylvania CWD plan endorsed

Deer tests positive for CWD in another Minnesota county, DNR says 

A wild deer has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) near Farmington, Minn., nearly 100 miles from the state's disease epicenter, according to a Mar 13 Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) news release.

A local resident reported that a buck appeared to have neurologic problems. The DNR tested the deer as part of its risk-based disease surveillance program. 

It is the first time CWD, a fatal brain disease, has been detected in Dakota County. The state's primary CWD area is near Preston, southeast of Dakota County.

For now, the DNR is planning to follow its CWD response plan, ban recreational deer feeding, and sample deer until the fall hunting season. Hunting is the primary way to manage CWD. Carcass movement restrictions and mandatory surveillance also will be used, the DNR said.

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health (MBAH) is expanding its CWD endemic area and will identify a disease management zone at least 15 miles in diameter around where the deer was found, the press release said.

The board also reported four additional cases of CWD from a Pine County deer farm. The first CWD cases at the farm were confirmed in January, when the herd was culled. The board investigated the farm because it provided deer, including a CWD-positive doe, to a Douglas County farm in December.

CWD, which affects moose and elk in addition to deer, is found around the world and in about half of the United States. It is always fatal to animals. "CWD remains relatively rare in Minnesota but is a concern as there is currently no known cure," according to the DNR's website.
Mar 13 Minnesota DNR press release
Mar 13 MBAH press release


Taxpayers footed bill for killing, testing farmed deer for CWD

American taxpayers paid deer farmers in Minnesota and Wisconsin more than $510,000 from 2017 to 2019 for permission to kill and test captive herds for CWD, according to a Mar 13 article in the Minneapolis StarTribune.

Records released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) show that the annual amounts paid by the agency increased each year, to $270,956 in 2019. 

In July, the newspaper sent the USDA a written request under the Freedom of Information Act for information on the 2019 buyout of a deer herd in Crow Wing County that was infected with CWD in 2016. It also asked how many farms participated in the agency's livestock indemnification program in Minnesota and Wisconsin and the amount of money paid to them. The agency refused to provide more than one page from 114 pages of records, the article said.

Through its program, the USDA pays farmers according to a valuation process that takes into account factors such as antler size and pedigree. The farmers then must disinfect equipment and burn all organic matter in their deer enclosures and keep wild deer from entering the site. The sites are posted as biohazard sites because they may contain the prions that spread the disease through saliva, feces, urine, and antler velvet.

However, the article said hunters like John Zanmiller, a lobbyist and spokesperson for the Whitetail Blufflands Association in southeastern Minnesota, questioned why the USDA is secretive about the payments and why taxpayers pay, rather than the deer farmers. "Where's the farmer's contribution?" he asked. "The buyouts promote the idea of private wealth at public expense."

Three-hundred deer and elk farms in Minnesota are regulated by MBAH. This year, eight deer on a Pine County farm and four deer on a Wadena County farm were killed and tested through the USDA program.
Mar 13 StarTribune article


National conservation group supports Pennsylvania CWD control plan 

The National Deer Alliance (NDA) has endorsed Pennsylvania's plans to contain the transmission of CWD, according to a Mar 12 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The wildlife management organization said it supports the Pennsylvania Game Commission's Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan, which when finalized will replace current protocols to manage the disease. The NDA said in its endorsement that the draft is "based on the best available science."

It calls for culling deer in CWD endemic areas, creating buffer zones, banning deer feeding, and increasing hunting through antlerless permit allocations, longer hunting seasons, lifting of antler-point restrictions, required harvest sampling, harvest incentives, and the use of paid shooters to kill deer in some affected areas.

Public comment on the draft ended on Feb 29. Game commissioners haven't yet voted on it.
Mar 12 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article
Feb 19 NDA article

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