Zombie Deer Disease: In GILMAN, Wisconsin – According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, this month will see the biggest depopulation of deer farms in the state’s history. Maple Hill Farms, located near Gilman in Taylor County, was shut down in August 2021 after the discovery of chronic wasting illness (commonly known as “zombie deer disease“)
The depopulation has been postponed until this summer due to disagreements over the details of the operation, such as whether or not any bucks could be sold and transferred to a CWD-positive shooting preserve, the source of indemnification, and the manner utilized to kill the animals. I’m losing my business and customers because of (CWD),” Seale remarked. It’s wrong to slaughter all my animals because some will test positive.
What is ‘Zombie Deer Disease’?
In recent weeks, chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been verified in 24 states, including Utah. This is an infectious disease that affects deer and elk. Following this, CWD has been called “Zombie Deer Disease” by the media. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the disease’s symptoms inspired the moniker, not the behavior of infected deer seeking humans to eat them.
Infected animals often show cognitive decline and disorientation around the one-year mark. Drooling, frequent urination or thirst, drooping ears, an absence of social inhibitions, and aggressive behavior are further indications. The fast weight loss experienced by infected animals contributes to the disease’s common “wasting” moniker.
Some scientists in the field of infectious diseases are worried that people can contract CWD from eating hunted deer.
Although there have been no confirmed cases of CWD in humans, research has indicated that it can be passed across species other than deer and elk, including primates. Up to 15,000 CWD-infected animals are consumed annually, according to the CDC. However, scientists cannot confirm whether CWD can be transmitted to humans by consuming infected deer.
Scientists studying wildlife diseases agree that CWD is a type of TSE or transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. Sheep, cows, deer, and humans have all been diagnosed with TSEs. In the 1980s and 1990s, 156 people in the UK fell victim to a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) called “mad cow” illness.
Consensus wasting disease (CWD) is transmitted between deer through infected secretions, tissues, water, and food. Infected deer have aberrant prion proteins that wreak havoc on healthy prion proteins in their brains and spinal cords.
Brain tissue has a “spongy” appearance due to cell accumulation and bursting.
Despite years of research and development efforts, there are currently no vaccinations, treatments, cures, or food safety tests for CWD. As a result, CWD must be handled using the best available scientific tools, such as restricting the movement of living deer and their carcasses, avoiding hotspots where susceptible animals congregate, culling, surveillance, monitoring, and public education.
Multiple state laws have been enacted to stop people from eating contaminated meat. Transporting, processing and packing rules for cervid (deer family) carcasses are among them. The number of states engaging in monitoring has also increased, and while testing might not be required in all of them, many have made it a priority.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that hunters not kill, touch, or eat the meat from any deer that appeared unwell or behaved oddly.
Where Has CWD Been Found?
According to the National Wildlife Health Center of the United States Geological Survey, CWD has been recorded in 30 states and numerous international nations since its initial discovery in Colorado in the 1960s. Both free-ranging and domesticated deer in Wisconsin tested positive for the disease in 2002.
According to state records, out of 301 registered deer ranches in Wisconsin, 38 have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease. Twenty were determined to be CWD-positive during the last three years, representing 54%. Twenty of the 38 have been cleared of their inhabitants, and their owners have been compensated.
— New York Post (@nypost) February 8, 2019
DATCP statistics indicate that in 2021, the disease was discovered in eight Wisconsin captive deer facilities. This year marks the addition of a pair. The disease’s sluggish but steady spread among Wisconsin’s wild deer has continued. Both the commercial deer farming sector and the wild deer population are vulnerable to the development of CWD, despite regulations, enforcement, and technological efforts to stop it.
And the costs to taxpayers, the number of businesses forced to close, and the time spent by agriculture and wildlife officials dealing with the outbreak all rise.
How Did the Zombie Deer Disease End Up at the Wisconsin Farm?
Seale has stated that she has no idea how the sickness arrived at her property. She explained that Maple Hills Farm had been a closed herd since 2015 thanks to its double-fenced perimeter and was striving to breed out CWD. According to Seale, a doe born at Maple Hills tested positive for CWD after being there for six years. Several more animals, including at least one of its fawns, have since tested positive. According to Seale, the last animal brought in by Maple Hills Farm was from a CWD-free herd in Pennsylvania.
Are Farmers Compensated When Deer Must Be Killed?
Per Kevin Hoffman, DATCP’s public relations officer, federal indemnity will be used to compensate Seale for the slaughter of the captive herd. The federal grant has a per-animal cap of $3,000. Suppose the estimated number of animals evacuated from Maple Hill Farms and the estimated value of the indemnity payout is accurate.
In that case, it will be the largest depopulation in the state’s history due to chronic wasting disease at a deer farm. In November 2015, DATCP slaughtered 228 deer at Fairchild Whitetails in Eau Claire County, the biggest depopulation to that point. In that case, the state provided the farm’s owner with a $298,000 indemnification payment. Thirty-four of the culled deer tested positive for chronic wasting disease.