Other Voices

Texas rules go too far in deer disease fight

Whitetail deer on a Palo Pinto County ranch.
Whitetail deer on a Palo Pinto County ranch.

It’s not unexpected for anti-deer breeding former Texas Parks and Wildlife Department chairman Joseph Fitzsimons to falsely claim deer breeders aren’t trying to fight chronic wasting disease. (See “Help fight this fatal disease threat to Texas wild deer herd,” June 16.)

The fact is, deer breeders have been the ones doing the most to monitor for CWD on their farms.

Deer breeders simply think that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s new rules, made in light of discovering CWD at a deer breeding facility last year, go too far.

Existing regulations were already more than sufficient for deer breeders.

Along with mandatory monitoring for CWD among farmed deer, deer could not be imported from other states, making Texas a “closed herd.”

Yet CWD popped up anyway at a breeder’s farm. This could very well be due to free-roaming deer having CWD and spreading it onto a farm.

CWD was first detected in Texas in free-ranging mule deer a few years ago in the western part of the state, likely brought in by natural migration of deer from New Mexico.

It’s possible the disease has spread among free-ranging deer, but TPWD has not adequately tested enough free-ranging deer, especially in areas where CWD has been found.

Since 2002, the state has tested less than 1 percent of the state’s estimated population of 3.8 million deer.

Instead, TPWD is trying to impose overreaching rules limiting the already heavily regulated movement of deer between farms, but they do not monitor for CWD in free-ranging deer on an equitable level.

Why the double standards?

Let’s be clear: No one wants CWD around, and the state should certainly implement reasonable policies to monitor for and try to limit the spread of disease.

But violating private property rights crosses the line.

The deer industry has done a very good job of finding and controlling CWD behind fences. It is the wildlife agencies that need to improve on their management practices.

Charly Seale is chairman of the media review committee of the American Cervid Alliance, a leadership council of representatives from 40 separate elk, deer and exotic associations.

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