Deer breeding facility in South Texas detect Chronic Wasting Disease

Robin Bradshaw
Alice Echo News Journal
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been detected in a deer breeding facility in Duval County.

A South Texas deer breeding facility in Duval County Chronic has detected Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The tissue samples were submitted by the deer breeding facility as part of the required CWD surveillance programs.

CWD is a neurological disease that can spread rapidly among wild deer and elk populations. This disease is 100 percent fatal, manifests slowly, and can remain in an infected environment for years. CWD is similar to mad cow disease and the Centers for Disease Control recommends not eating deer affected. 

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials immediately moved to secure all deer at the breeding facility in Duval County and to track other breeding facilities that received stock from the site or shipped deer to the location.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department would not disclose the exact location of the facility. 

"CWD is a challenge, to say the least," said TPWD official John Silovsky. 

“Early detection and containment remain critical strategies in our efforts to help mitigate the risk of further spread of this disease,” said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. “There is too much at stake across Texas to do otherwise.”

Deer-breeding facilities are a growing industry in the state and have a direct economic impact of $349.4 million annually and an indirect impact of $786.9 million, according to a recent study by Texas A&M AgriLife.

Although, economic benefits are significant in deer breeding, Texas hunters and landowners have concerns about the industry. The rise in cases of CWD in captive deer threatens the hunting of white-tailed and mule deer. 

Texas currently has 260 positive CWD cases in 14 counties. The numbers have increased in the last two years, according to Silovsky. 

A coalition of landowners, hunters, conservationists, researchers and concerned citizens in Texas petitioned TPWD, calling for stricter regulation of deer-breeding facilities because of the risk to wild-deer populations.

The TPWD commission will host a special meeting on proposed rules related to CWD on Sept. 15.