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Old Aug 18th 2014, 03:06 PM   #1
 jerrilee cave's Avatar
  Feb 2013
  Markleville IN
Indiana DNR calls scientific heavy hitters to captive-deer hearing

Ryan Sabalow, 2:31 p.m. EDT August 18, 2014

For years, the state agency with the most at stake in the ongoing legislative debate over what to do about the disease-prone captive-deer industry has been largely silent.

Instead, the loudest voices lawmakers heard were from hunting-preserve owners and deer farmers who have lobbied hard against any effort to strongly regulate the industry because they say it will hurt rural Hoosier economies.

That's going to change on Tuesday.

Officials at Indiana's Department of Natural Resources have asked four out-of-state wildlife disease experts to testify before the 14-member Agriculture and Natural Resources Interim Study Committee.

One of the experts is among the foremost federal authorities on chronic wasting disease, an infectious brain disease that's always fatal to deer and that's been found in 22 states. The disease — and the extent to which the captive deer industry is responsible for its spread — is a significant point of contention in the debate over how strongly the industry should be regulated.

The DNR's move is significant because in recent years its officials have not testified before lawmakers as they have debated legislation favorable to Indiana's hunting preserve and deer-farming industry.

DNR officials have long worried that CWD could be shipped into Indiana in an infected deer riding in a farmer's truck trailer. They also believe high-fence hunting — deer hunting on private fenced reserves — is an affront to hunting ethics and long-standing wildlife management philosophies that say deer are a public resource and should not be held for private profit.

In this industry, deer are sold as part of a boutique agricultural market that breeds bucks with antlers sometimes twice as large as the record for animals killed in the wild. Some breeding stock can command six-figure prices. There are close to 400 deer farms in Indiana.

It's possible that deer-farming industry officials also will have scientists testify on their behalf at Tuesday's committee meeting. Representatives at three state and national trade associations representing deer farmers didn't respond to interview requests.

'Everyone knows where they stand'

The DNR's silence about legislation in recent years has vexed the industry's staunchest opponents, including Michael Crider, a former DNR law-enforcement chief who's now a Republican state senator.

"The people who weren't really present in the room was DNR," said Crider of Greenfield. "But they just have to be. They're the local experts on the topic."

Barbara Simpson, executive director of the Indiana Wildlife Federation, agreed, but she said the agency was reluctant to openly discuss deer farming because it was embroiled in a nasty legal fight over high-fence hunting in Indiana. In 2005, the DNR issued an order attempting to shut down the state's fenced deer hunting preserves, after a case in which deer bred for big antlers were being shot in enclosures so small that officials called them "killing pens." The preserves sued, challenging the order.

Last year, a Harrison County judge ruled that the DNR had no authority over captive-deer hunting because the animals on the preserves were privately owned. The attorney general's office has appealed the ruling. Meanwhile, the four deer-hunting preserves left in Indiana are operating without oversight from the DNR.

"DNR was very reluctant to come out one way or another in public, although certainly everyone knows where they stand," Simpson said.

For its part, the agency isn't saying much in advance of the meeting.

In response to an interview request from The Star, spokesman Phil Bloom replied in an email that the DNR is preparing for the meeting and "will make its presentation at that forum."

The committee's chairman, Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston, said he asked the agency as well as the Indiana Board of Animal Health, which regulates livestock operators, to provide scientific input.

Lehe said he wants the issues of disease to be the focus, not a debate on the merits of high-fence hunting. The committee has been tasked with discussing whether the state should continue to keep its borders open to shipments of farm-raised deer or close them like 21 states have done.

Lehe's committee can only make recommendations to the legislature, which will reconvene early next year.

What's at stake

This spring, Senate President Pro Tempore David Long called for a summer study session on deer breeding in the wake of an Indianapolis Star investigation of the industry, its practices and the potential for spreading disease.

Wildlife officials across the country say there is compelling circumstantial evidence that captive deer farms and hunting preserves have spread disease, as deer are shipped across state lines to be killed in the private preserves and as breeding stock.

CWD, a brain disease similar to mad cow, is of particular concern. It has been found in 22 states. The Star's investigation revealed that in half of those states, CWD was found first in a commercial deer operation.

There is no approved live test for the disease, and wildlife officials across the country say escapes are common. In one case in Indiana in 2012, a buck escaped from a Southern Indiana farm after being shipped into the state from a herd in Pennsylvania were animals later tested positive for CWD.

The Pennsylvania buck was never found.

After The Star's investigation published, Long said he would be open to discussing whether to close the state's borders following the lead of Florida and New York, which closed their borders to imports last year. State wildlife officials in Missouri have since proposed doing the same.

Long, who once compared high-fence hunting to dog fighting, told The Star this spring that lawmakers had been "getting one side of this: That these preserves really aren't as bad as they're made out to be."

Scientists to testify

But on Tuesday it's clear the 14 lawmakers on the committee will hear from what Long describes as that other side. According to the Indiana Wildlife Federation, the DNR's list of speakers include:

•Dave Clausen, a veterinarian and the former chairman of Wisconsin's natural resources commission. Clausen is an outspoken advocate for tougher regulations on captive deer operations. He's also familiar with the consequences of what happens when chronic wasting disease takes hold in a state. In one region in Wisconsin, nearly one in three bucks is infected with CWD. The state has spent more than $30 million to combat the disease.

•Missouri Department of Conservation Veterinarian Kelly Straka. Missouri has proposed closing its borders to deer imports following the detection of CWD linked to two hunting preserves. In 2010 and 2011, 11 infected deer were found in the two preserves, then 10 others were found in the wild within two miles of one of the pens — and nowhere else in the state. Wildlife officials say they are 99 percent certain the disease did not exist in the wild in Missouri until it was introduced on the preserves.

• Bryan Richards, chronic wasting disease project leader at the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis. Richards is regarded as one of the top federal experts on the disease.

• Kip Adams, a former deer biologist for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the director of education and outreach for the Quality Deer Management Association. The QDMA is a national hunter-sponsored organization that's opposed to the interstate trade in captive deer because of the disease risks.

Who will testify for the deer industry?

Lehe, the committee chairman, said he also reached out to the deer industry advocates to encourage them to bring their own scientific experts, but he didn't know who might attend the hearing.

There are a group of industry-supportive professors and veterinarians who have testified in past debates. They downplay the risks posed by the interstate deer trade, saying that they're minimal, that it's impossible to track the path of chronic wasting disease with absolute certainty, that deer herds have not vanished in areas where CWD infection rates are high, and that there are no known cases of CWD jumping the species barrier to infect humans.

Some say that CWD is just a "political disease," dreamed up by opponents such as animal-rights activists who find the industry distasteful.

The panel session be held at 10 a.m. in room 404 of the Indiana Statehouse on West Washington Street.

Lehe said it was unlikely any action would be taken following the testimony. He suspects the committee will need to schedule another meeting before issuing recommendations for any changes in state law.

Call Star reporter Ryan Sabalow at (317) 444-6179. Follow him on Twitter:@ryansabalow.
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Old Aug 18th 2014, 03:30 PM   #2
 SJames's Avatar
  Apr 2009
  Columbia, MO

Cervid: Deer Farm Manager

Make sure you ask Kelly Straka how CWD came into Missouri? I want to know her exact words. If she says anything about coming into a preserve ask her why no tagged deer ever tested positive. Also ask her if it was possible that hunter carcasses from out west were dumped in that area. (It is VERY possible). The owners of this preserve all were from out West.


Here are some facts on the Missouri CWD for you guys to use on her. These numbers come straight from Jason Summers the MDC deer biologist.* Take special note that the MDC testing stopped in 2005 while the captive testing continued on.

14ptSome Facts about the CWD Positives in Missouri
  1. 21 CWD positives have been found in Missouri. All but one of them were from healthy animals as a result of a hunter harvest. One appeared to be in poor condition when harvested. It was only tested for CWD but no autopsy was performed. *It could have been sick from a variety of causes including pneumonia, Fuso Bacterium, EHD, and many other causes.
  2. There has never been a single case of a deer dying from CWD in Missouri. All CWD positives were from animals killed by a bullet.
  3. There is no known human health risk from eating CWD infected carcasses.
  4. Eleven of the positives were inside large enclosures and the remaining 10 were from outside enclosures in what we term as “free ranging” whitetails. The 11 found inside enclosures were from natural born animals or what are referred to as “native animals” within the enclosures. No imported tagged animals were positive. *It is possible these deer originated from deer that were in the enclosures at the time the enclosures were built.
  5. At the time the first ones were found, the enclosures were being monitored and tested at a fairly high level while the free ranging deer were being tested very little or none at all. It only makes sense that if CWD were present in the area that it would be found in the enclosures first. You only find something when you are looking or testing for it.
  6. In 2005, the Missouri Department of Conservation quit testing for CWD. From 2001 to 2005 they had taken almost 23,000 samples at that time without a positive. In the target area of 6 counties where the positives were later found, they had taken 1281 samples. *There are 3881 square miles in that area and the deer population is estimated at 64 per square mile or 248,384 deer. So they sampled about of 1 percent.
  7. In 2005, the Missouri Department of Conservation took 24 samples statewide and 0 samples in the 6 county area where CWD was later found. In 2006, they took 25 samples statewide and 1 sample in the 6 counties.
  8. Sometime in 2005-06 it was pointed out in a CWD Task Force meeting that since the MDC was no longer testing, if we found it in Missouri, it would be found by the cervid industry. Of course that was true.
  9. In 2007 the MDC started sampling again by hiring taxidermists to take lymph nodes from adult trophy bucks. From 2007-2009, *they collected 4221 samples with 367 coming from the 6 counties. It is note worthy that the breakdown is 331 in 2007, 8 in 2008, and 28 in 2009 from the 6 target counties. That is a very small sample size in 2008 and 2009. *All together during those 3 years they tested .15 of 1 percent *of the deer population in that area.
  10. Collection of lymph nodes is not considered accurate enough and not approved for use by the cervid industry.
  11. The enclosures have a game proof fence around them. All deer introduced into the enclosures must meet strict monitoring and* testing requirements for CWD, TB, and Brucellosis. Captive deer are the healthiest and most monitored and tested species of animal in the United States. The free ranging deer can move about anywhere and could walk in from just about anywhere.* They have no monitoring or testing requirements* for ANY disease. In fact free ranging deer in general are tested very little as seen by the facts above.
  12. Since 2002, there has never been a case where a CWD positive animal was found to have been moved across state lines..NONE!
  13. After finding the first CWD in an enclosure, authorities tested over 1100 deer both inside and outside the enclosure and found no more positive deer. That number is rarely seen in the press.
  14. The highest precedence of CWD in any state is Wyoming. It has never allowed any game farming. New Mexico also has CWD and doesn’t allow any game farming.
  15. The people who raise captive deer are also hunters and care about the wild deer herd on an almost absurd level. When people know the real facts surrounding CWD, they will realize that the captive deer industry poses a very low risk threat to our great deer populations.
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Old Aug 18th 2014, 03:58 PM   #3
 Bell's Avatar
  Apr 2014
  Greensburg, IN
Jerri Lee,

You have some meaningful letters behind your name. What Sam has posted would be a great topic for you to address at the hearing.
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Old Aug 18th 2014, 06:00 PM   #4
  Nov 2010
  Lanesboro, Minnesota

Jonathan, who is attending? *is the meeting tomorrow?
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Old Aug 18th 2014, 06:12 PM   #5
 Four Seasons Whitetails's Avatar
  Oct 2009
  upstate ny

Cervid: Whitetail Deer

Funny how they say that CWD was always found inside the pen first and then right outside. Here in Ny our case came from a taxidermist/Rehabilitator that did all kinds of animals from out west and also only took deer from our state to rehab and those were the positive ones. Never another case shown from 2005 untill present in farm or wilds. Yeah 10 years clean and they say our testing does not work. Riiiight!!!


Best part about that is that i believe Michigan's case came the very same way!!
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Old Aug 18th 2014, 06:34 PM   #6
 Bell's Avatar
  Apr 2014
  Greensburg, IN

The people Dad arranged are all I know for certain. This may be the time when the opposition gets a little extra time on the floor. Tomorrow will be some what of a pony & cart show. The media, like Ryan Sabalow, will have another opportunity to cherry pick what they want from the days testimony and write about it in the paper to try and trick the low information public. The summer study panel is heavy on our side and will not be easily misled. I hope our industries organizations have used their resources to get some people in here to counter these peoples propaganda. I hope Nadefa has some professional people lined up to give testimony. I am sure Gary Jacobson is working hard on this and will have some credible people there to testify as well. I am riding down with Dad and our DVM. The meeting begins at 10am. tomorrow August 19. I hope Ryan Sabalow is ignorant enough to write a negative article that includes one person I know who is testifying tomorrow.
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Old Aug 18th 2014, 06:48 PM   #7
 jerrilee cave's Avatar
  Feb 2013
  Markleville IN
I will be going tomorrow and report back.

Good news is that today we got our federal id for the new association in Indiana, United Cervid Farmers of Indiana-UCFI. AND we WILL be on board with the ACA. THE FARMERS OF THIS STATE NEED TO BE HEARD!!!
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Old Aug 18th 2014, 06:53 PM   #8
 Bell's Avatar
  Apr 2014
  Greensburg, IN
Jerri Lee can you post the site where people can watch and listen to the testimony at the hearing? It is in the email from the outdoor writer. It's the Indiana general assembly website. It will be archived on there. You may only be able to listen to the webcast.
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Old Aug 18th 2014, 11:04 PM   #9
 Bell's Avatar
  Apr 2014
  Greensburg, IN
I request that everyone say a prayer for those who will testify on our behalf this morning.
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Old Aug 19th 2014, 09:22 AM   #10
 Four Seasons Whitetails's Avatar
  Oct 2009
  upstate ny

Cervid: Whitetail Deer

I request that everyone say a prayer for those who will testify on our behalf this morning.

I see that Terry Slngelterry schmuck is all over the QDMA website saying how one of the experts says they found CWD in 5 month old fawns and also one of the experts say that we should not be able to pull our own CWD samples because we will fudge the test. *And fraud ya know.
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Old Aug 19th 2014, 09:50 AM   #11
 Clearview Whitetails's Avatar
  Sep 2010

Cervid: raising deer
Hard to believe singletary, really this man is an absolute idiot with an education that stops at high school because he was to dumb to finish!!
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Old Aug 19th 2014, 10:43 AM   #12
 Four Seasons Whitetails's Avatar
  Oct 2009
  upstate ny

Cervid: Whitetail Deer
Yup and I'm afraid someday guys like him and Ryan will find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time! It would be different if they told the truth in their preaching!
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Old Aug 19th 2014, 10:44 AM   #13
 South Alabama Whitetails's Avatar
  Jul 2009
  Deer Park, Alabama

Cervid: whitetails
Four Seasons Whitetails962901408473782

Yup and I'm afraid someday guys like him and Ryan will find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time! It would be different if they told the truth in their preaching!

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Old Aug 19th 2014, 01:28 PM   #14
 jerrilee cave's Avatar
  Feb 2013
  Markleville IN
Wanted to give an update after attending the summer study season today. I would like to thank Shawn Shafer for the excellent testimony that he gave . I'm sure that I left everybody heads spinning he had so much information.

Dr raglan from a field veterinarian at Purdue gave excellent testimony as did a couple other practicing veterinarians.

What disappointed me most was besides Shawn Shafer we had nobody else with cwd credentials behind their name.

The opposition gave testimony after testimony with presentations and graphs/numbers. They had the people mentioned above by Sabalow plus the head of the Indiana CO's, hsus, Indiana bow hunters, 2 wildlife assoc and more.

Professionally speaking we were ill prepared with big guns. And Ryan Sabalow was typing on his computer like a madman .

To our advantage Sean Eberhart of the natural resources commission is very intelligent and always seems to ask the right questions that often discredits the opposite side .he gets it, but how many others do???
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Old Aug 19th 2014, 01:41 PM   #15
  Apr 2009
  Fort Wayne, Ind

Cervid: Deer Farmer

jerrilee were was our idefa
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