Mad Deer Deemed Risk To
Range Cattle - Don't Mix 'Em!
By Patricia Doyle, PhD

I live next to a 300 acre cattle ranch. Many times as I drive past the bucolic pastures I watch free ranging deer mingling with the cattle in the pastures. Until recently, I enjoyed watching the cattle and deer, side by side, roam freely in those pastures.
This Fall, however, the news about Chronic Wasting Disease spreading throughout the Western States, and entering the Mid West in Nebraska has changed my mind on the banality of cattle mixing with free ranging deer and elk.
There are some who felt that deer were exposed to, and, contracted Chronic Wasting Disease, because they would eat cattle feed in the cattle pastures. I fail to see how the US deer would contract the prion disease, known as Chronic Wasting Disease, and the cattle who ate that same feed in the US pastures would not contract a prion disease, such as BSE.
I believe that the danger is in reverse. In other words, it is my opinion that the free ranging deer who are infected with prion disease, also known as Chronic Wasting Disease, are a 'clear and present danger' to domestic US cattle. I think that infected deer can infect the pastures that they share, albeit, clandestinely, with their ruminant counterpart, cattle.
I believe that the prion infected deer will create a very unsafe condition for the US cattle grazing on pastures, that, could, now, be infected with prion disease as a result of the intruding deer and elk.
As Chronic Wasting Disease begins to spread throughout the deer population in the US, there is a very likely possibility that their mingling with US cattle will cause a mad cow epidemic in the US.
I am sure that the cattle ranch which neighbors my home is no exception. Throughout the US, one can see free ranging deer and elk, mingling, side by side with cattle on green grassy pastures in Summer and Snow covered pastures in Winter. It is also not an exception to note that Chronic Wasting Disease in deer and elk is escalating throughout the US and Canada. Deer and Cattle, not only share food, but also drink from the same water supply.
The USDA and other US Government Agencies are trying to ensure our food supply is mad cow disease free. I do, however, think that they are concentrating their efforts on feed, and are overlooking the above mentioned situation of Prion Infected Deer, and ek, mingling with US cattle.
Are we sure that Chronic Wasting Disease will not spread to cattle and cause BSE?
We do not know if Chronic Wasting Disease is infective and IF pastures where infected deer and elk roam are also infective to cattle.
I sincerely hope that the US Government will address the situation of free ranging deer and elk, mingling with cattle.

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