Since Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was first discovered in mule deer in the Hueco Mountains of Texas in 2012,  concerns over the movement of the deadly cervid disease has concerned animal health officials, prompting the latest development, new intrastate movement requirements for species susceptible to CWD as established by the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC). The new rules are effective immediately.

“With the disclosure of CWD in mule deer...coupled with the newly required designation of red Deer and Sika deer as susceptible species, it is imperative that surveillance is increased in those species and movement of those susceptible species be traceable”, said Dr. Greg Hawkins, TAHC Region 4 Director.

TAHC says they have been working closely with the state's cervid industry to develop the new movement rules which are intended to provide better traceability and CWD surveillance of elk, red deer, Sika deer, moose, and their hybrids.

In Texas alone there are approximately 125 different species, or products, of exotic wildlife, defined by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as exotic wildlife that are grass or plant eating, single or cloven-hooved mammals that are not indigenous or native to the state. Within the state's exotic wildlife industry, cervid farming, including elk and deer farming and hunting, represents a growing industry with a sizeable economic impact. In fact, in a 2007 study conducted by Texas A&M University, researchers estimated the cervid farming industry had a direct economic impact of $894 million nationwide.

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While the new TAHC rules address the intrastate movement of cervid species including elk, red deer, Sika deer, and moose, other cervid species native to the state, including white-tailed and mule deer, both of which are susceptible to CWD, fall under Texas Parks & Wildlife Department's movement regulations.

CWD is a transmissible neurological disease of the cervid population, including deer and elk, that produces small lesions in brains of infected animals. It is characterized by loss of body condition, behavioral abnormalities and death. The disease is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). Research suggests that humans, cattle and other domestic livestock are resistant to natural transmission of CWD.

The disease was long thought to be limited in the wild to a relatively small endemic area in northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and southwestern Nebraska, but has recently been found in several new areas across the North American continent. The disease also has been diagnosed in commercial game farms in several states, but so far not in Texas.

The new TAHC movement rule replaces the previous rule which applied only to elk and required testing animals based on the number being moved. The new rule also removes the requirement to sacrifice healthy animals for testing purposes.

As it relates to movement of elk, red deer, Sika deer, and moose, when transporting CWD susceptible species, owners are required to apply an official identification device to the animals being moved, and to complete and submit a CWD Susceptible Species Movement Record. They must also provide a current estimated inventory of the herd of origin.

In addition, owners are required to provide documentation of negative CWD test results on 20 percent of all eligible mortalities in the herd on an annual basis to the TAHC. Eligible mortalities are those occurring after June 12, 2013, in herd members 16 months of age and older, including hunter harvested animals and animals sent to slaughter. The necessary forms, instructions, complete rule and additional information may be obtained at the TAHC website or by contacting a local TAHC Region Office.

Herd owners are not required to meet the 20 percent mortality testing requirement when transporting animals to a state or federally inspected slaughter facility. These animals count as eligible mortalities for the herd, however, owners are encouraged to test these animals as well as those harvested by hunters to ensure the herd meets the testing requirement for future movements. Negative CWD results must be obtained on at least one out of five eligible mortalities to qualify a herd to move live animals to another premise.

To read the rule in detail, visit www.tahc.texas.gov.

 

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