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From: TSS ()
Subject: Re: re-HOLE IN THE FENCE MAD DEER MAKE GREAT ESCAPE TO INFECT OTHERS 79% of deer herd was ill
Date: March 4, 2006 at 5:53 pm PST

In Reply to: re-HOLE IN THE FENCE MAD DEER MAKE GREAT ESCAPE TO INFECT OTHERS posted by TSS on March 4, 2006 at 7:51 am:


79% of deer herd was ill
Game farm spreads fear in Portage County
By LEE BERGQUIST
lbergquist@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Mar. 3, 2006
Laboratory tests from a Portage County game farm show that chronic wasting disease riddled a herd of white-tailed deer, producing what is believed to be the highest infection rate ever found in a captive deer population.

Deer Farm


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Related Coverage
Deadly Game: Series on chronic wasting disease (Ongoing series)

Archived Coverage
1/13/06: Cut fence sparks fear of deer illness

State agriculture officials on Friday reported that 60 of 76 of the deer - 79% - were found to have contracted the disease.

The findings mean that the fatal deer disease was festering behind fences in a region of Wisconsin that has not produced any cases in the wild.

Chronic wasting disease is a brain ailment that is in the same family as mad cow disease.

Officials from the state departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection expressed concern about the high infection rate.

But they also said it is not clear that the deer owned by Stan Hall have infected the wild deer population in the surrounding area.

Since the disease was first discovered on the Hall farm in September 2002, the DNR has tested 738 wild deer from Portage County and 1,078 from neighboring Waushara County and found no diseased deer, the agency said.

On Jan. 12, the game farm's fence had been found deliberately cut and deer tracks had been seen going in and out of the fence in the snow.

Hall told authorities that as many as 40 bucks were living in that section of the farm - a 59-acre enclosure. But when sharpshooters moved through the area, they found only four deer.

They shot the deer, and then shot four others outside the fence in mid January. Test results from the eight deer did not show evidence of the disease, officials say.

Shooters also killed 76 other deer in a separate 10-acre enclosure where the fence was not breached. It's 60 of those deer - a mix of females and immature deer - that were found to have the disease, said Robert Ehlenfeldt, the state veterinarian.

Ehlenfeldt said that his agency and the Portage County Sheriff's Department are continuing to investigate the fence cutting and the location of the 40 deer - if they were ever there.

"We want to account for those 40 deer if it is at all possible," Ehlenfeldt said.

When contacted by phone on Friday, Hall pointed to his vandalized fence for the disappearance of his deer.

"Somebody cut the fence, that's all I know," he said.

Hall added that he was surprised so many deer tested positive.

"It was higher than I expected," Ehlenfeldt said, adding that 22 other deer shot by clients of the game farm had previously tested positive.

One explanation for the high infection rate might be that diseased deer have been living at Hall's farm - known as Buckhorn Flats - for more than three years.

Hall had been fighting an order to kill his herd for 2 1/2 years until he settled with the agriculture department in December.

"When you take a contagious, incurable disease and you put a lot of animals together, the incidence is going to go up, and that's what happened here," Ehlenfeldt said.

Joel Espe, president of the Wisconsin Commercial Deer and Elk Farmer's Association, agreed that the disease could have flourished because deer had been living among infected deer so long.

But he noted that no new cases of chronic wasting disease have been found on other deer and elk farms in the state.

And he said a possible explanation for the disease showing up on the deer farms in the first place is that farmers for years took in orphaned wild deer or bought wild deer from the DNR.

In other words, Espe and other deer and elk farmers believe the disease could have originated in the wild.

Until the findings on the Hall farm, the highest infection rate of chronic wasting disease in a captive deer population had been in Nebraska, a biologist there said Friday. In December 2000, authorities killed 196 deer and 98 - or 50% - came back positive.

"You have the highest I know of now," said Bruce Morrison, a biologist and wildlife disease specialist with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

Alan Crossley, coordinator for chronic wasting disease at the DNR, said that 14 deer have been killed since Feb. 10 outside the Hall farm. The agency is still waiting for results from those deer.

The DNR announced last month it was issuing permits to landowners in a 2˝-square-mile area around the Hall farm aimed at killing as many deer as possible until the end of March.

All of those deer will be tested, Crossley said.

Chronic wasting disease was discovered near Mount Horeb in Dane County in early 2002. Wisconsin was the first state east of the Mississippi River to find the disease.

The disease has since been found in a broad region west of Madison, but centered in Dane and Iowa counties.

It also has showed up in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, including Rock, Walworth and Kenosha counties.

http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=405861

tss




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