SAN ANTONIO – A new case of chronic wasting disease has been found in a white-tailed deer hunted at a ranch in both Medina and Uvalde counties.
The discovery was announced Friday by the Texas Animal Health Commission and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in a news release. Both agencies are now investigating, and a herd plan for the ranch owner is being worked out.
A TPWD spokesman said the sample was submitted by the landowner in compliance with the interim CWD rules for Class II release sites, which state:
- (B) The landowner of a Class II release site must obtain valid CWD test results for one of the following values, whichever represents the lowest number of deer tested:
- (i) if deer are hunter-harvested, a number of deer equivalent to 50 percent of the number of breeder deer released at the site between August 24, 2015 and the last day of lawful deer hunting at the site in the current year; or
- (ii) 50 percent of all hunter-harvested deer.
- (C) If any hunter-harvested deer were breeder deer released between August 24, 2015 and the last day of lawful deer hunting at the site in the current, 50 percent of those hunter-harvested deer must be submitted for CWD testing, which may be counted to satisfy the requirements of subparagraph (B) of this paragraph.
More information on the interim deer breeder and CWD permit rules can be found here.
There are now eight known cases in Texas of the deadly deer disease in captive white tails.
The discovery happened at the same time TPWD is working on a new long-term CWD surveillance plan. The plan is expected to be presented to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission at the March 24 meeting.
White tail hunting and breeding is a multibillion-dollar industry in the state of Texas.
Alarm bells went off when CWD, the illness most often compared to mad cow disease or scrapie, was discovered in a Medina County herd last summer.
Industry leaders are now looking to save deer by turning toward an option not yet approved by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, live-animal testing.
At the first-ever CWD ante-mortem testing symposium Jan. 12, scientists, veterinarians and breeders came together to learn about rectal and tonsil tests that do not require deer to be dead.
“If we can get away from post-mortem testing and have some valid live-animal testing, it’s going to give us a lot of opportunities,” said Clayton Wolf, wildlife director at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
Andy Schwartz is the interim executive director for the Texas Animal Health Commission. He said the TAHC has always approved the way state and federal agencies have handled CWD. That includes the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopting emergency and interim rules regarding deer management permits a total of four times, the most recent time being Jan. 21.
Schwartz said TAHC and TPWD plan to use live-animal testing on some of the herds that are still under restrictions as a result of the discovery of CWD. Most still waiting to be tested came from Robert Patterson’s Texas Mountain Ranch.
Patterson’s facility is often referred to as the index facility.
Within the last five years, Texas Mountain Ranch received deer from 30 other Texas deer breeding facilities and transferred 835 deer to 147 separate sites, according to TPWD. The department estimates that in that same time frame, more than 728 locations in Texas either received deer from the index facility or received deer from another breeder facility that had.
CWD has now been confirmed in Medina, Lavaca and Uvalde counties.
A TPWD spokesman told the Defenders deer hunting licenses were up nearly 8,000 during the 2015-16 hunting season compared to the prior year. Hunters also voluntarily submitted more than 10,000 deer samples for CWD testing.
WATCH: Deer Hunting Forecast 2015