The discovery of two mule deer in West Texas confirmed with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) doesn’t pose a crisis to animal health, but it has sparked a response from Texas animal health officials, Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD) leaders and a number of cervid breeders in Texas who warn that over reaction, stiff regulations and expensive mandates could create an economic disaster for one of the state’s fastest growing and successful industries.

Gilbert Adams, III, president of the Texas Deer Association (TDA), a member support group of cervid breeders and supporters in Texas, says his organization has long supported an active monitoring system for CWD control. In fact, most of the 1,000-plus Texas breeders participate in two such programs: the first a mandatory TPWD testing program initiated in 2002 that requires all cervid breeders in the state to test at least 20 percent of animal deaths each year, a procedure that must be paid by the breeder. Secondly, most breeders in the state participate in a Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) CWD Monitored Herd program, which requires testing of 100 percent of all eligible deaths each year.

CWD is an infectious neurological disease that has been found in cervid populations— mostly free-ranging populations—in 19 additional states. TPWD has previously stated there is no indication that CWD in deer can lead to disease in native livestock or people. Wildlife officials regard prevention as the primary and most effective tool to combat CWD.

Adams is quick to point out that Texas deer breeders support monitoring and testing programs designed to limit the movement of animal diseases among free range wildlife and breeding stock at hundreds of facilities across the state.

“What we are asking is that regulations placed on Texas breeders are in line with the same type of programs state agencies are using to monitor free ranging deer. We are fortunate in Texas that we have evaded CWD until now. CWD monitoring and testing programs have been around for a long time. The truth is, there is no avoiding the disease sooner or later,” Adams said.