Most of the 1,000-plus Texas breeders participate in two programs related to CWD. The first is a 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 voluntarily participate in a Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) CWD Monitored Herd program, which requires testing of 100 percent of all eligible deaths each year.

Out of approximately 848,706 free-ranging (non-breeder) cervids tested across the nation since 1998, approximately 3,600 free-ranging cervids were found to be CWD positive. TPWD reports that from 2002 through 2010, a total of 33,900 breeder and wild cervids have been tested for CWD, but CWD has never been found in Texas in white-tailed deer, a number that TDA members say speaks well to the commitment of Texas breeders to prevent the spread of the disease.

Texas breeders say selecting the right rules is important for the viability of the breeding industry. For example, attempts to eradicate CWD in other states, such as Wisconsin, have proven generally ineffective and have had disastrous effects on local economies dependent on goods and services related to hunting.

Kinsel says 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.

“One of our primary goals is to make certain we keep Texas a top destination for hunters. It’s an $8 billion industry that adds a great deal to our economy, and the efforts of the TDA are designed not only to protect the animals we breed but (also) to manage them properly, and this includes good animal health practices,” he adds.

Kinsel says the state’s cervid breeding industry adds another $700 million to the state’s economy, according to a Texas A&M study, and that adopting rules that are based on science is the best way to ensure the industry remains a viable alternative for rural property owners who often supplement their agriculture operations with breeding programs.

Once published in the Texas Register, the public will have 20-days to submit comments before the rule takes affect.