Research efforts stopped after disease suspected in deer in Kerr County

A buck tested positive for chronic wasting disease at a Texas Park and Wildlife research facility.

File: deer

KERR COUNTY – Texas Parks and Wildlife biologists have reported a suspected case of the fatal chronic wasting disease in a 14-month-old buck in captivity at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area research facility.

Scientists discovered the disease after they conducted tests on all captive white-tailed deer as part of the agency’s ongoing research. According to a press release, the samples were sent to the National Veterinary Service Laboratory in Iowa for confirmation. As a result, all of the deer at the research facility were euthanized.

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“TPWD staff are disappointed to abruptly end nearly 50 years of white-tailed deer research that has significantly influenced deer management in Texas and across the country,” Wildlife Division Director John Silovsky said in a press release. “Staff will continue to investigate opportunities to enhance the understanding of this insidious disease in both captive environments and free-ranging populations.”

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease found in certain deer and other members of the deer family. It is a slow and progressive disease that may not produce visible signs for years after infection. The department adds that animals with CWD may show signs of progressive weight loss, stumbling, tremors, a lack of coordination, dropping ears and excessive thirst. Texas Parks and Wildlife said that early detection and proactive monitoring can reduce the spread of the disease.

Researchers have been investigating CWD at its Kerr County facility since 2002 and intensified its research after receiving conflicting results for CWD in a female deer that was euthanized in January.

In a press release, Texas Parks and Wildlife said that the first case of CWD was discovered in a free-range mule in the Hueco mountains near the Texas-New Mexico border in 2012. The disease has since been detected in captive and free-range deer in Texas.

For information on previous detections of CWD in Texas and best practices for hunters and landowners, visit the TPWD’s CWD page.


About the Author

Sean Talbot is the Assistant News Director at KSAT. He formerly served as the Assignments Manager. He joined KSAT in 2001. He graduated from Texas State with a degree in Mass Communication with a minor in Political Science. When he’s not getting our news crews out the door, he’s at home with his wife Lomisa and their two daughters Grace and Sydney.

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