<span style="font-weight: bold">The leader of Indiana's Senate said he's willing to consider closing the state's borders to live-deer imports in the wake of an Indianapolis Star investigation that uncovered a link between the trophy deer-breeding industry and the spread of disease.</span>
State Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, called for a summer study session to discuss the disease risks associated with Indiana's nearly 400 deer farms, and address the decades-long legislative and legal stalemate over high-fence hunting.
"I think the whole issue needs to be analyzed thoroughly," said Long, R-Fort Wayne...........
<span style="font-weight: bold">More at-risk deer moved to Indiana</span>
Indiana still allows imports from states where CWD has not been found. The Star learned this week that five farms in Indiana are under quarantine after state officials discovered that deer shipped in from a farm in Pennsylvania could have been exposed to CWD. When the deer were imported, CWD had not yet been found in Pennsylvania.
It's the second time potentially infected deer from Pennsylvania have made their way into the state. In the first incident, one of the deer, known as Yellow 47 for the color and number of the tag in its ear, escaped and was never found.
Such escapes are widespread in the captive industry, raising other disease concerns as well. Bovine tuberculosis, which can infect cattle and humans, has been discovered on at least 50 captive deer and elk operations. A deer farm in Indiana is believed to have spread the disease to cattle, and the government response cost taxpayers more than $1.2 million.
Long said he was troubled to learn about the latest issue involving Pennsylvania deer........
"Any one of these (farms) could have CWD-positive deer today," said Bryan Richards, the chronic wasting disease project leader at the U.S. Geological Survey's National Wildlife Health Center.
Richards said taxpayers will have to foot the bill for the massive effort to track down potentially infected animals in the "web of recent sales," even if no disease is detected. He said many state wildlife agencies also are likely to begin testing wild animals near farming or hunting operations that received deer from the Pennsylvania herd, at a substantial cost.
All of this, Richards said, "exemplifies the risks associated with movement of live deer."
Shawn Schafer, the North American Deer Farmers Association's executive director, said the fact that the farms were quarantined is proof the system is working. "This isn't a raging, blazing case of disease running rampant throughout the industry," he said.
He said there's no need to limit interstate movement because state and federal officials test captive deer when they die and use farm records to backtrack shipments and find other infected animals. The Star, however, found shoddy record-keeping often hampered efforts to track outbreaks, and deer escapes were common. There are also proven instances of nose-to-nose contact with wild deer through deer fences.