FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The US is Losing the War Against Deer Disease

by

It has been over ten years since Wisconsin endured a kind of deer holocaust. The terminal deer and elk disease, chronic wasting disease (CWD), descended upon its deer population with such vengeance officials declared “CWD eradication” zones in which fauns and does would be killed before bucks. Thousands of deer carcasses were stored in refrigerated trucks in La Crosse while their severed heads were tested for CWD. If the carcasses were disease-free they were safe to eat (any takers?); if not, they were too dangerous to even put in a landfill. Why? Because “prions” (which also cause mad cow disease, scrapie in sheep and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans) are not inactivated by cooking, heat, autoclaves, ammonia, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, phenol, lye, formaldehyde, or radiation. They remain in the soil indefinitely.

Hunters in Wisconsin and other states were warned to wear surgical gloves when cutting up deer and to avoid exposing open cuts or sores on their hands.  One hunter wrote the local paper that after his buck tested positive for CWD he was worried about the blood on his steering wheel and hunting clothes which his wife was exposed to. There were also cross-contamination risks since deer processors do not usually sterilize their equipment after each deer. Food pantries in Wisconsin and their customers were warned about the risks and it became difficult to donate. (“If this meat is so safe why don’t you eat it?” the poor may have been thinking.)

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials in Wisconsin and other states assured the public that deer meat was safe, even if it harbored CWD, as long as they avoided eating a deer’s brain, eyeballs, spinal cord, spleen and lymph nodes–the parts also implicated in mad cow disease.  But scientific articles suggested most of the animal contained prions including its kidneys, pancreas, liver, muscle, blood, fat and saliva, antler velvet and birthing material.

Another reason to doubt DNR officials’ reassurances, calculated to keep their funding from hunting licenses flowing, is a 2002 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the CDC titled Fatal Degenerative Neurologic Illnesses in Men Who Participated in Wild Game Feasts —Wisconsin, 2002.

Many animal lovers have noted the hypocrisy of states citing deer “overpopulation” when they encourage deer
breeding farms. What?  Recently a four-part expose in the Indiana Star explores how “the pursuit of deer bred for enormous antlers and shot in hunting pens” on trophy farms is spreading CWD at an alarming rate. Deer breeding and “trophy farms” are a $4 billion a year industry and hotbeds of CWD thanks to their concentration of animals, “communicability window” (from trophy stock trading and escaped animals) and its unknown feed sources.

Like mad cow disease, widely believed to stem from the cost-cutting practice of feeding cows to cows, chronic wasting disease may also have man-made origins. In the mid-1960s, the Department of Wildlife ran a series of nutritional studies on wild deer and elk at the Foothills Wildlife Research Facility in Fort Collins, Colorado and soon after the studies began, however, Foothills deer and elk began dying from a mysterious disease reports  Brian McCombie. The CWD in the deer may have been caused by sheep held at the same facility which had scrapie, say researchers.

Since 2002, Wisconsin’s CWD eradication efforts have failed abysmally. The penned herd of 76 deer at Stan Hall farm has gone from one animal with CWD to 60 in five years writes outdoor reporter Patrick Durkin and in some areas, half of all deer now have the disease. “The world’s most ‘disturbing,’ ‘frightening’ and ‘unprecedented’ CWD case is growing next door to our capital and flagship university, and our government won’t crack a window to sniff it,” he writes.

Clearly using wildlife, which is held in trust by the state for the benefit of the public per the “Public Trust Doctrine”, to profiteer from hunters is unethical and harmful to animals. And despite DNR officials’ assurance, the spread of CWD may prove harmful to humans too.

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

 

 

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail