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Texas Deer Populations Facing Untreatable Disease

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Chronic Wasting Disease is threatening Texas’s white-tailed deer populations. Symptoms include “emaciation, excessive salivation, lack of muscle coordination, difficulty in swallowing, excessive thirst, and excessive urination,” but these conditions don’t show up until the late stages of the disease.

This leaves plenty of time from infected deer to spread the disease through bodily fluids, antler material and decomposition of their bodies. With no vaccine or treatment for this fatal disease, it’s a very troubling situation.

Since deer are technically classified as wildlife, The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has stepped with rules for deer breeders, including mandatory sufficient testing. Supporters of TPWD’s efforts, like rancher Joseph Fitzsimons, says: “It is ironic that captive deer breeding may well be the cure that destroys the populations it was originally meant to help rescue.”

While everyone agrees that Chronic Wasting Disease is serious, there are differing opinions concerning how to go about solving the problem. Some breeders are vocally taking issue with the new rules, citing that testing has caused unnecessary deer death since the only way to test is by removing the brain stem. Hopefully, scientific improvements will be made to provide testing before death, and eventually, a cure.