No chronic wasting disease confirmed at Kerr County facility where deer were euthanized

Suspicion of CWD led to end of 50 years of white-tail deer research

File: deer

KERR COUNTY – A suspected case of chronic wasting disease at a Texas Parks and Wildlife research facility in Kerr County turned out to be a false alarm.

TPWD officials on Friday said a post-mortem test conducted by the National Veterinary Service Laboratories showed no chronic wasting disease in a 14-month-old buck that was suspected of having the disease.

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The suspected case led to all of the deer at the facility being euthanized, ending 50 years of white-tail deer research there.

The suspected case was found after the October testing of all captive white-tailed deer as part of the agency’s ongoing research. The initial sample was processed at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Lab which was helping the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab conduct tests in a timely manner. The lab identified one sample as “suspect positive” and sent the sample to NVSL for confirmation.

TPWD called it an “extremely rare occurrence” that the NVSL results differed from initial testing.

“While TPWD staff is disappointed in abruptly ending use of the research herd, the department knew it was essential to immediately eliminate the likelihood of amplifying the disease threat within the captive facility,” said Wildlife Division Director John Silovsky. “Additionally, it also reduces the risk of potentially transmitting CWD to the surrounding WMA property and neighboring landowners. Early detection and containment of the disease are key components of CWD management.”

The WMA will also continue mandatory testing of all hunter-harvested deer on the property.

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 last January.

In a press release, Texas Parks and Wildlife said that the first case of CWD was discovered in a free-range mule deer 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 Authors

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 25 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s daily digital content strategy.

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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