At least 287 of more than 350 deer tested on an Iowa game farm were found to be infected with chronic wasting disease and euthanized by wildlife officials and the farm owner paid $917,100 for the animals, according to a story highlighting the contentious issue of game farms, wildlife and disease.
Nearly 300 white-tailed deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease on an Iowa deer farm, the most infected animals ever found inside a farmer’s pens.
The news comes as Indiana lawmakers are poised next week to issue recommendations on how best to regulate the state’s deer-breeding operations and whether to ban deer imports.
At a hearing in August in Indiana, deer breeders and their sympathetic veterinarians repeatedly downplayed the risk of CWD, saying rigorous testing keeps infection rates low and reduces the risk of massive outbreaks of the always-fatal disease.
Some wildlife disease experts say this latest outbreak strongly suggests otherwise.
“This is what happens when you allow disease to sit and percolate on a game farm,” said Bryan Richards, the chronic wasting disease project leader at the U.S. Geological Survey’s National Wildlife Health Center.
Tom and Rhonda Brakke of Clear Lake, Iowa, owned the deer and game farm. Of the 356 deer killed by state and federal officials for testing, since there is no test on live animals for CWD, some 284 tested positive.
The Brakkes wanted to transfer their deer to another site but were prohibited from doing so. They also wanted $1.46 million compensation, saying their deer were worth at least $2 million. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reimbursed them $917,100 for the deer that were euthanized.
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