Preserve Owner Uncooperative, Deer Escape as CWD Concerns Intensify

Ohio Division of Natural Resources officials are ramping up efforts to test wild deer for chronic wasting disease after the recent discovery of the disease in a captive herd northeast of Cleveland.

Ohio-Division-Wild-Life-405.jpgFollowing the discovery of CWD-infected deer at a private shooting preserve and learning that deer had been transported from other states into Ohio, state officials were out in full force in some counties for the recent opening of gun deer season. They were obtaining samples and testing for the disease in wild deer.

The discovery of CWD on the preserve, World Class Whitetails near Millersburg, appears to have become more than the DNR expected. Officials ordered the deer in Daniel Yoder’s preserve euthanized because he did not follow orders to quarantine the deer and reportedly moved them to another preserve. He also reportedly had issues with records, and state officials believe some of his deer escaped into the wild recently.

Some preserves in Ohio were quarantined last April; some voluntarily elected to euthanize their deer and come off the quarantine list while others did not and still are on the quarantine list for five years.

Additionally, DNR officials have reportedly had a hard time getting hunters in the county where the preserve is located to cooperate with voluntary testing. Jim Shepherd, writing in opinion column Dec. 8, said the issue may be deeper than just landowner rights vs. a state agency. Shepherd wrote:

The unspoken problem seems to be one deeper than a single deer farmer with what appears to be a chronic disregard for record-keeping or state regulations. The elephant in the room is that Mr. Yoder is Amish – and that fact is impacting both the problem and any attempts to try and see if there is a widespread CWD problem in Holmes County, Ohio. Gun deer season ended there yesterday, and officials had hoped that hunters would bring voluntarily bring their deer or deer parts to check stations so they could be checked for CWD. Seems the Amish hunters, who had used those voluntary check stations in the past have lost interest in participating. According to Egan’s story, only one-to five deer per day had been brought in for checking.

Have the Amish closed ranks against outsiders? Hard to say, but I have heard some scattered reports that say that’s the case across the country. If so, it’s another of those big stories that may be bigger than the outdoor media is capable of breaking.

Ohio DNR officials reported fewer deer checked in when the gun deer season ended Dec. 7, but also fewer permits were sold this year. That’s partly due to a regulation change prior to the season, they believe.

In any case, the Ohio CWD issue is well worth watching. Stay tuned for more updates.

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