Details On The NY State
CWD Deer Herds

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
From ProMed Mail
From Gary Nelson
(Gary Nelson is the President and acting director of the NADeFA (North America Deer Farmer's Association) and personally interviewed the owner of the deer that was found to have CWD in NY. - Mod.TG)
As we have all heard, CWD was found in Oneida County, New York. CWD was confirmed on 2 different farms, the 1st farm owned by John Palmer and the 2nd by Martin Proper.
The 1st positive was a 6-year-old doe that was harvested for a fireman's benefit dinner. In talking to John, he said, "I picked out the fattest, healthiest looking doe I had."
Most people have been led to believe that CWD-positive deer exhibit signs of poor health, but the deer farming industry has found this to be untrue. The vast majority of those animals that have tested positive have shown little, if any signs of sickness.
The herd was depopulated only days after the 1st positive was found. On a Tuesday morning, sharpshooters came in and after 6 hours had put down the remaining 18 deer. Samples were collected and sent in for analysis. Friday the results were back; 3 more positives were found for CWD. These 3 deer all came from New York State's Rehabilitation Program. John Palmer acquired these deer from New York's wild population through conservation officers.
John Palmer's herd started when he purchased a few deer from Ohio in 1994. Later, he added other deer from a New York source. 7 years ago John started rehabilitating fawns. John said he took in 1-14 fawns per year from all over New York. John had the responsibility of determining whether the fawn could be released back into the wild or had to stay forever in a pen in his privately owned herd. He also relocated some of these fawns to other producers. This is how Martin Proper came into the picture.
Martin Proper is the owner of the 2nd positive herd. The animal that tested positive for CWD on his farm was a 4- or 5-year-old buck that died from pneumonia, another rehabilitated wild deer from New York. Martin received 2 deer from John Palmer's herd; one doe that was blind and one doe born with only 3 feet. They had bred and had produced some offspring. The aforementioned buck killed one of these does during last year's rut, and was not tested because it happened before their CWD Program was up and running. The rest of Martin's herd was put down and samples analyzed. No other positives were found.
There were 5 positives found in these 2 herds; 4 were deer taken from the wild [as rehabilitated fawns]. It is unclear to John where the very first doe originated, but he felt it could have originated from the wild as well.
Taking deer from the wild is not condoned by the cervid industry and is strongly discouraged; nonetheless, it did happen with the deer in this situation.
A statement released by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on 5 Apr 2005 announced plans to conduct intensive monitoring of the wild deer population surrounding both farms to determine whether CWD has spread to the wild herds.
The NYS DEC has already directed blame towards the farmed deer industry for bringing CWD into New York, even though there is a clear history of the DEC taking deer out of the wild and placing them into John Palmer's herd for rehabilitation. The question should be, "Where did the wild deer of New York get CWD?"
Adding to the questions, without any answers, John is a taxidermist and has taken work from all over North America. He mentioned receiving work from the following states and Canadian province: Saskatchewan, Montana, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming. When looking at where CWD has been found in the wild, many of these locations appear on that list.
In a study released by Beth Williams and Mike Miller, they noted that [a deer] was just as likely to contract CWD from a live infected deer as it was to be housed in a pen with a dead positive carcass.
Did one or more of the many dead animals brought into John's taxidermy studio have CWD? John stated that he kept the rehabilitation fawns in the same garage where he did much of his taxidermy work. It was common practice for John to sweep up his shop and deposit the salt and chemicals along the deer fence as a weed retardant.
The industry has always said that movement of CWD-positive carcasses would move CWD much faster and farther than moving live animals. Is the New York situation just that? Is there a need to regulate movement of CWD-positive carcasses?
There are many points that come to the forefront from the situation in New York:
* The detection of CWD in New York clearly shows that the monitoring system is working. These programs are set up to identify herds at risk.
* This event highlights the need for surveillance. Without the state monitoring/surveillance programs, these positive deer would not be detected. The more herds on these programs, the lower the risk.
* In the face of CWD, the best defense is herd monitoring/surveillance. What better way to get participation than to recognize those who have already participated in these programs and allow for continued movement for their herds that have met the needed criteria? The event in New York has _in no way_ compromised the health status of any herd that has been enrolled in a CWD monitoring/surveillance program.
* CWD conjures up many questions that remain unanswered. There is a continued need for the government agencies involved and the industry to work together to resolve some of those questions.
* As previously seen, in discoveries of CWD, including this New York case, all too often the producer is portrayed as a villain. There is no one who wants this "disease" to be found on their property. When CWD is found, the industry expects the producers to be treated fairly and with respect. The finger-pointing and intimidation tactics are _not_ needed to resolve the issues involved with CWD and private ownership of deer in the United States.
Deer farmers are fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. They have served this country in the armed forces. Deer farmers come from all walks of life; doctors, lawyers, carpenters, plumbers, and housekeepers. The one thing they all have in common is the passion they have for their deer. Let us work together to resolve the issues that CWD brings to the forefront across this great country of ours.
Gary Nelson, President
[It has been reported in other newspaper sources that the owner of index herd in NY not only put the salt and other products from cleaning up his taxidermy work along his fence lines -- thus exposing his captive herd -- but also that the fawns in the taxidermy garage area may have licked, mouthed, or chewed on entrails from some deer.
It is stated in this NADeFA release that the owner of the index herd was to decide whether the rehabilitated deer could return to the wild or were not capable of survival on their own, presumably because of serious injury, such as 3 legs, or imprinting on people. However, he was instructed to turn some loose in the wild.
If the fawn or fawns in question consumed -- or otherwise contacted -- infected tissues in the taxidermy shop and then were released to the wild, then it could be speculated that NYS DEC would likely find exposed wild animals. If the fawn was originally wild, exposed through taxidermy work on other wild animals, and then released back to the wild, it would be difficult to say that captive animals brought disease to wild animals. It would be more acceptable to say the wild animals have introduced this disease to captive animals. - Mod.TG]
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Date: 27 Apr 2005
From: ProMED-mail promed@promedmail
Source: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website
For Release: Immediate
Contact: Michael Fraser (518) 402-8000
Wed 27 Apr 2005
Chronic Wasting Disease Found in Oneida County Wild Deer; Preliminary Positive Result Found During DEC Monitoring Efforts
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced it has received a preliminary positive result for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a wild deer sampled in Oneida County. If confirmed, this will be the 1st known occurrence of CWD in the wild in New York State.
The positive sample was from a yearling white-tailed deer tested as part of DEC's intensive monitoring effort in Oneida County. The sample tissue was tested at the State's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Cornell University. The sample will be sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa to be verified.
DEC implemented intensive monitoring efforts after CWD was found in 2 captive white-tailed deer herds in Oneida County -- the 1st incidents of CWD in New York State. On 8 Apr 2005, the State Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM) completed testing of the captive deer and found a total of 5 positive results for CWD in the 2 captive herds.
To date, DEC, along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services program, has sampled 213 deer from Oneida County and 25 deer from the Town of Arietta, Hamilton County. Since 2002, DEC has conducted statewide sampling of wild deer for CWD. Counting also the sampling efforts in Oneida and Hamilton Counties, DEC has collected more than 3700 samples from wild white-tailed deer.
In response to the latest finding, DEC and DAM will continue public outreach to interested parties in Oneida County to help educate citizens on CWD and to discuss the next steps to be taken. In addition, DEC and DAM will conduct additional outreach and continue to aggressively pursue inspection and enforcement at all captive deer herds across the State.
DAM continues to investigate, sample, and test white-tailed deer from 2 captive herds directly associated with the 2 herds that were confirmed positive for CWD in Oneida County. Results for these sampling efforts will be announced when available. DAM also continues to review its regulations regarding the movement, surveillance, and monitoring of live cervids in New York State.
Later this week, DEC will file emergency regulations to ensure the proper handling of deer and prevent further spread of CWD in the wild herd. The emergency regulations will establish a containment area in Oneida County, where CWD has been identified and where certain requirements will be established on movement and handling of deer. The containment area will initially include the cities of Rome, Sherrill, Utica, and Oneida, as well as the towns of Floyd, Marcy, Whitestown, Westmoreland, Verona, Vernon, Kirkland, and New Hartford. Within the containment area, DEC's emergency regulations will:
* prohibit the movement of certain animal parts out of the containment area;
* establish mandatory check stations for any deer taken by hunters in the containment area;
* prohibit possession of any deer killed by a motor vehicle so DEC can acquire specimens for testing; and,
* prohibit the collection, sale, possession, or transport of deer or elk urine taken from the containment area.
In addition to the requirements listed for the containment area, DEC's emergency regulations will include provisions to be followed by individuals and facilities across the State. The emergency regulations will also:
* specify record-keeping and reporting requirements for taxidermists and require measures to prevent live cervids from coming in contact with any materials, including taxidermy materials, that may contain the infectious agent that causes CWD;
* prohibit wildlife rehabilitators to take in wild white-tailed deer at facilities that house live cervids, unless they possess a specific permit from DEC;
* require retailers who sell deer feed to post a sign provided by DEC to advise buyers of the State prohibition on feeding wild deer; regulations will also prohibit the sale of deer feed that is packaged or labeled for wild white-tailed deer.
DEC will continue intensive sampling of wild deer in Oneida County through 30 Apr 2005. Additionally, DEC will sample all deer killed within the containment area pursuant to nuisance deer permits and by hunters for CWD testing. DEC will use the results of all these efforts to describe the distribution and prevalence of CWD in wild deer as accurately as possible.
CWD is a transmissible disease that affects the brain and central nervous system of certain deer and elk. There is no evidence that CWD is linked to disease in humans or domestic livestock other than deer and elk. More information on CWD can be found at DEC's website
-- ProMED-mail
It would be quite unusual for a yearling to have the disease. However, if that yearling was exposed to infected tissues at a very early age, then it may be possible. Nevertheless, this presumptive finding is extremely unusual. Likewise, given the statements from the index herd owner regarding his direction to release rehabilitated deer back into the wild, then it would also be expected that DEC would find CWD cases in the wild. - Mod.TG
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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