American Cervid Alliance Sets the Record Straight with Chronic Wasting Disease Facts

July 10, 2014

The American Cervid Alliance (ACA) represents an alliance of 36 state and national associations whose primary mission is the enhancement of the farmed cervid industry across the United States and Canada. In its ongoing effort to educate the public concerning the true facts of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), its affects on farmed and free ranging cervids, and to dispel many myths surrounding CWD, the ACA issues the following facts as they pertain to the disease in general and the false attacks on a legitimate agriculture industry in particular.

•    Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is not only a farmed deer issue; there are 9 States that have CWD in free-ranging wild deer/elk that do not have it in farmed deer/elk.

•    Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been found in whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, red deer, sika deer, and moose.  It has not been found to naturally cross the species barrier.  In other words it does not affect humans or domestic livestock.

•    Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has never been found in a farmed whitetail deer that has crossed state lines since the monitoring program was established in 2002.

•    Farmed cervid breeders, who are enrolled in their state’s Herd Certification Program, are required to test 100% of their eligible mortalities.  After 5 years of monitoring they may engage in interstate commerce as long as they remain in the program and continue to test all eligible mortalities.  They also have to test negative for TB and Brucellosis or their herd has to be TB accredited and Brucellosis certified.   A vast majority of herds have been participating in these programs since 2002, which establishes more than 10 years of surveillance for most cervid farms.

•    Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has not been shown by itself to have any significant impact on the wild cervid populations in CWD endemic states such as Colorado, Wyoming or Wisconsin.  Science has shown that the decline in the mule deer populations over the past few years in these western states have been from urban sprawl, drought, oil industry expansion, over hunting and depredation.

•    Wildlife Agencies are exempt from the protocols established in USDA/APHIS’s Federal CWD rule for transportation of wild cervids across state lines.

•    The farmed cervid industry tests an average of 22,000 deer per year and has only found CWD test positives (not clinical disease) in less than 0.05% of those tested.  This is a very low prevalence rate when compared to truly devastating diseases such as Anthrax and Epizootic Hemorrhagic (EHD).

•    Research has shown that the CWD prion may be transported by other vectors such as alfalfa, corn, carrion birds, and carcass movement.

•    The farmed cervid industry has some of the most stringent rules in place governing the interstate movement of deer when compared to other animal industries.

•    The regulation of the farmed cervid industry, in some states, is under that state’s Department of Ag.  The advantage to having the farmed cervid industry under the state’s animal health agency is because they are better equipped and more knowledgeable of animal diseases than state wildlife agencies.

•    The farmed cervid industry spends a tremendous amount of money on research of not only CWD, but other more devastating diseases such as EHD that effect both wild and captive deer.  Research on deer diseases funded by the deer industry would be virtually nonexistent if this industry does not exist.

•    Most hunters want to harvest a trophy whitetail buck or elk bull. The average age of a cervid harvested in the wild is 18 month while the average age of a wild cervid harvested on a conservation ranch or preserve is 3 years old.  The farmed cervid industry, through a combination of genetics, nutrition, and age is producing a product that is far superior to anything found in the wild.

•    Drug residue, in all food producing animals and especially cervids, such as antibiotics and chemical immobilization drugs are under scrutiny from many sources.  The cervid industry is spending literally tens of thousands of dollars on drug tissue residue research to make sure our cervids are healthy and are chemical free when consumed by the public.  The farmed cervid industry has the highest ethical standards and will not tolerate and in fact condemns any practice that does not reflect these high standards and ethical behavior.

•    The farmed cervid industry is a legitimate agriculture industry.  To demonize this entire industry through bad science, myths and misinformation is wrong.

•    The farmed cervid industry creates thousands of jobs. This industry has literally saved family farms and can be accomplished on marginal land that is not suited for other agriculture industries.


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