Charles Seale, executive director of the Exotic Wildlife Association in Ingram, Texas, and advocate for the conservation of native and non-native hoofstock, says the TAHC action represents a “common sense rule,” but warns the move will probably bring about the decline of Sica deer and Red deer hunting in Texas.

“First of all, I would say there is no need for panic. There is about a one-percent chance that deer will contract Chronic Wasting Disease and there has never been a case of CWD in a Texas deer. But the requirement to monitor exotic herds and the limitations imposed on movement is probably going to cause that segment of the exotic industry to slowly fade away in Texas,” he told Southwest Farm Press.

Seale sits on a committee of veterinarians and producers in Texas who advise TAHC on proposed rules and says he is not opposed to monitoring programs designed to protect exotic animals in the state.

“But public perception over the news will rattle the exotic industry and many exotic game operators in Texas will simply choose to stop dealing with Sica deer and Red deer instead of participating in a program that will require extensive monitoring and paperwork.,” he said.

Seale says testing live animals for CWD is not possible and estimates that one in five exotic Sica deer and Red deer would need to be killed and submitted for testing if an operator chooses to participate in the monitoring program.

“This is something that most ranchers simply would rather not do. So unless you have a big operation and breed your own animals in Texas, I think we will see operators opting not to purchase out-of-state breeding stock.

Seale says also driving TAHC’s decision to impose restrictions on interstate movement of Sica and Red deer is the recent confirmation of CWD in eight mule deer in New Mexico near the Texas state line earlier this year. The mule deer with CWD were discovered in the Hueco Mountains of New Mexico. The rugged, sparsely populated range extends into Texas northeast of El Paso.

“These cases were within 25 miles of the Texas line and testing deer throughout the area is underway. But any time Chronic Wasting Disease is mentioned there is often a bit of a media frenzy over the issue that advocates and spreads fear among the general population,” he said.