He says an active monitoring program is still useful in gauging the extent of the disease and to aid in slowing or preventing the movement of the disease outside of restricted zones.

“But monitoring wild herds is a difficult and expensive process that someone has to pay for. TPWD doesn’t have an endless budget, so the extent of testing and monitoring programs must be efficient and reasonable. We would like to see that same kind of attitude toward the state’s breeders who are paying as much as $1.3 million annually right now to meet state mandated programs and to participate in voluntary programs. If additional regulations are implemented that require higher production costs, breeders could be in serious predicament,” he added.

Whoever pays the bill, the taxpayer or the breeder, CWD programs are going to require some serious cash, depending on the extent of the program. But considering the positive economic impact of the Texas cervid breeding program each year, many argue the cost is worth it.

According to a 2007 Texas A&M economic study of the deer breeding industry in Texas, it is perhaps the fastest growing industry in rural America. In Texas, breeders on average spent $306,000 annually—on 2007 production costs—and made a significant $318.4 million impact on the state’s economy that year. In addition, when incorporating the indirect impacts of the industry, for example the farm’s expenditures on feed, veterinary services, fuel and other purchases, the total economic impact was about $523 million. Add to that hunters who are the major customers and driving force behind the breeding industry and contribute another $129 million toward breeder product, the overall impact totals more than $650 million.

In addition, the industry provided more than 7,300 jobs to Texans in 2007. Adams says the greatest impact of the industry, however, is in the strengthening of rural areas in the state.