Rural Missouri - October 2013 - (Page 14)
O U T D O O R S
by Jason Jenkins
hile some Missouri deer hunters are
already enjoying days afield this fall,
state conservation officials would like
them and others to take a few minutes before their next hunt and voice their opinions
about a threat to the Show-Me State’s white-tailed
In September, the Missouri Department of Conservation began a series of public meetings to discuss
what is being done to minimize the risk of chronic
wasting disease, or CWD.
According to officials, the disease puts Missouri’s
deer herd — along with the $1 billion in economic
activity it generates each year — at significant risk.
Changes to protect the herd could impact hunters
as well as those who operate private deer-breeding
operations and big-game hunting preserves.
CWD is a neurological disease that affects deer,
elk and other members of the deer family. It belongs
to a group of diseases that includes scrapie, which
affects sheep and goats, and bovine spongiform
encephalopathy, commonly known as “mad cow
Conservation officials believe they have restricted chronic wasting disease to a small area of north-central Missouri.
disease,” which affects cattle. CWD is believed to be
Minimizing the risk of spreading CWD to the herd statewide may include new rules for the captive deer industry.
100-percent fatal to deer that contract it; there is no
known cure or vaccine.
First identified in Colorado in the 1960s, CWD
has since spread to animals in 21 states. The first
confirmed cases in Missouri occurred in 2010 and
2011 at private big-game hunting preserves in
Linn and Macon counties. Since then, a total of 11
cases of CWD have been found in captive deer, and
another 10 cases have been reported in free-ranging
drop it immediately and walk away, but that simply
While no specific regulation changes have been
deer around those facilities.
is not the case,” said James, a member of both Boone
presented, the tone set at the meeting was clear:
“You could throw a 3- or 4-mile circle around all
and Callaway electric cooperatives.
Stricter rules likely are on the way for the state’s prithe CWD positives,” said Jason Sumners, an MDC
The largest point of contention appears to focus
vate deer-breeding operations and big-game hunting
resource scientist and leader of the department’s
on fencing. Currently, the industry requirement is a
preserves. Members of the captive wildlife industry
deer management and research program, describing
single 8-foot-tall fence. While there is argument over
feel that MDC has them in the crosshairs unfairly.
the spread of the disease. “All 10 of (the CWD cases
whether a fence of this height adequately keeps cap“We want to be treated like other livestock inin the free-ranging herd) are in adjoining sections.”
tive deer in and free-ranging deer out, State Wildlife
dustries,” said Sam James, president of the Missouri
Conservation officials took steps in 2012 to slow
Veterinarian Kelly Straka said a single fence does
Whitetail Breeders and Hunting Ranch Association.
the spread of CWD from this part of north-central
little to prevent direct contact through the fence.
“With what we’re doing, the programs we’re in,
Missouri. They established a six-county containment
“Whether you’re dealing with chronic wasting
every day that we’re in these programs, the risk gets
zone, which includes Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon,
disease or bovine tuberculosis, any disease that can
smaller and smaller of CWD in the captive herd and
Randolph and Sullivan counties. Within the zone,
be spread through direct contact, you want to have a
spreading it anywhere.”
special regulations now apply. Because CWD can
double barrier,” she said. “The important thing is to
A deer breeder for 20 years, James said the indusbe spread through direct contact with an infected
be able to keep those animals physically apart.”
try has come a long way in the past decade. He said
animal, deer attractants such as grain feeders and
James said that while his own facilities are douthey are willing to make some concessions, such as
mineral blocks are prohibited to prevent unnatural
ble-fenced, requiring the industry to install double
making enrollment in the CWD Herd Certification
congregation of deer. An antler-point restriction pro10-foot-tall fences, for example, would be unprecProgram mandatory for all breeders.
tecting young bucks also is suspended in the zone.
edented within animal-related industries. “That
“If we thought we were bringing any sort of risk
“Prevention is the best medicine,” Sumners
would go to court because of the cost,” he said. “It’s
to the free-ranging deer herd in Missouri, we would
said. “It’s an extremely difficult disease to
an unfunded mandate.”
deal with once it’s established. So, those
He said the industry would support
common-sense rules that we can put into
rules for fence integrity.
place to help us keep from introducing the
Those who attended the public meeting
disease somewhere else is what we’re tryin Macon passionately shared their feelings
ing to accomplish.”
during the two-hour forum.
Sumners said hunters statewide can
“When I was a kid, we didn’t have
help prevent the spread of CWD by propdeer,” said Dave Baggs, a Tri-County Elecerly disposing of deer carcasses by burying
tric Cooperative member from Kirksville.
them or sending them to a landfill. “We
“Over the years, everybody sacrificed so we
as hunters owe it to the state’s deer herd
can have deer. I’d like to see my grandkids
to go that extra little step,” he said, add— my grandkids’ grandkids — have deer.
ing that it’s also important for hunters to
The health of the deer is the most imporreport deer that appear sick.
MDC isn’t limiting its focus to the wild
herd. At the first public meeting, Resource
The Missouri Department of ConservaScience Division Chief Mike Hubbard said
tion continues its series of public meetings on
MDC has identified four areas of concern
Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and Oct. 9 in St. Joseph, Blue
related to disease transmission and the
Springs and Springfield, respectively. All meetcaptive-deer industry: separation of captive
ings begin at 6:30 p.m. For more details, visit
and free-ranging wildlife, transportation
www.mdc.mo.gov and search “chronic wasting
Nearly 120 people attended a public meeting Sept. 3 in Macon where the top- disease.” The public also may post comments
and movement of captive wildlife, disease
ic was limiting the spread of chronic wasting disease in the state’s deer herd.
testing and herd certification.
online at www.mdc.mo.gov/deerhealth.
A deer dilemma
Disease threat prompts officials to consider new regulations
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2013
Rural Missouri - October 2013
Schooled on sailing
A deer dilemma
Therapy for the heart & soul
Out of the Way Eats
Charge of the Iron Brigade
Hearth and Home
Rural Missouri - October 2013
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