June 17, 2016 – The potential spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from the captive white-tailed deer population to the wild population could be economically devastating to landowners and rural communities who depend on hunting revenues. Monday June 20, 2016, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) will hear final public testimony about how best to contain the spread of CWD. All concerned citizens are invited to participate. Click here for details.
Texas Agricultural Land Trust (TALT) supports the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) efforts to protect the health of Texas deer populations and encourage the TPW Commission to adopt CWD rules that ensure safety for our state’s wildlife resources. We have a narrow opportunity to address an emerging disease before it becomes widespread.
CWD could have indirect impacts on hunting, hunter participation, and economic benefits derived from big game hunting. In Texas, hunting is a $2.2 billion economic engine, supporting many landowners and rural towns across the state.
CWD is a neurological disease in deer, elk, moose and other members of the deer family, known as “cervids.” The disease has been documented in captive and free-ranging deer in 21 states and two Canadian Provinces. It presents numerous challenges for state wildlife agencies across North America.
Because eradication is thought to be impossible once CWD becomes established in a population, it is imperative that a sound CWD management program is established to reduce the severity of implications resulting from the disease.
Facts to Consider:
- Nearly one million Texas hunters depend on our state’s 4.5 million white-tailed deer for recreation and food. The safety of that resource is paramount.
- Deer hunting in Texas provides a multi-billion dollar annual economic impact. That helps keeps rural lands intact and provides habitat for all wildlife.
- What happens to property values when CWD is detected next door? What options do people have that DID NOT move deer? Are the rights of people who choose NOT to move deer less important than those who do?
- Texas is the ONLY state to allow liberated deer to be comingled with free-range deer.
- Transportation of cervids, whether they be breeder deer, or deer from the pasture increases the risk of spreading the disease to more populations. That privilege brings with it a higher responsibility to screen for disease.
- Identification Is a CRITICAL asset in any epidemiological investigation. Liberated breeder deer that are visibly identified can be more easily retrieved from the pasture and traced back to their source. This not only helps the investigating agencies find sources of cervids that test positive for CWD, but it helps landowners and breeders by ELIMINATING their properties from a dragnet when they receive negative CWD test results.
Help fight this fatal disease threat to Texas wild deer herd an OpEd by Joseph Fitzsimons a rancher, lawyer and conservationist who is a director of the Texas Wildlife Association and former chairman of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.