4th case of wasting disease confirmed in South Texas deer


6:08 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15, 2015 | Filed in: State

SAN ANTONIO — A fourth case of chronic wasting disease has been confirmed in captive deer in South Texas.

The latest infected deer was raised in Medina County at the same ranch as the other three deer with the disease, prompting an increase in testing of both captive-bred and hunter-harvested deer statewide.

New rules that take effect Aug. 24 establish conditions that must be met before breeders, most of whom have been banned from shipping deer since July, can sell or transport deer in advance of hunting season. The deer hunting season starts in October.

Chronic wasting disease affects the brains and nervous systems of deer, elk and possibly moose. It isn’t considered a threat to human health or livestock.

Texas is limiting the release of captive-raised deer to properties enclosed by high fencing to try to protect against spreading the disease.

“We’re the only state that allows people to liberate breeder deer,” Clayton Wolf, director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s wildlife division, said at a meeting in Hondo last week. “This year, we’re not going to allow any low-fenced liberation.”

The disease is believed to be spread through saliva, blood, urine, carcasses and infected plants and soil.

An estimated 30,000 wild deer have been tested since 2003, but the only positive chronic wasting disease results were from seven mule deer in far West Texas diagnosed since 2012, Wolf said.

Texas will require deer testing at sites where animals from breeder herds are released.

Voluntary testing will be available for hunter-harvested deer at state checkpoints and drop-off sites.