Game and Park rules address chronic wasting disease

January 16, 2002 Omaha World-Herald by Larry Porter
In an effort to stem the threat of chronic wasting disease, the Nebraska Game and Parks commissioners Tuesday ruled that mule deer no longer can be owned by high-fence hunting operators or captive wildlife producers.

In a 4-3 vote, commissioners gave grandfather rights to five producers licensed by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture to keep captive mule deer.

Other high-fence operators who may inadvertently have captured mule deer - along with whitetails - when they put up their fences will be required to remove the deer. Commission personnel said deer behind fences could become targets of such eradication efforts as youth hunts.

The ruling also made it illegal for producers in the Panhandle to produce captive bighorn sheep and for any producer in the state to possess or offer wild pigs as quarry for hunters.

Two amendments to the mule deer regulation offered by Commissioner Jim Stuart of Lincoln were accepted by the majority of other commissioners.

A "sunset" clause will cause the regulation to dissolve in five years. In addition, the commission must revisit the regulation if a test for CWD is developed that can be administered to live mule deer by commission officials."

Connie Lapaseotes of Bridgeport, Woody Egermayer of Omaha and Marv Westcott of Holdrege voted against the proposal.

Tuesday's session marked the end of Egermayer's five-year term. Egermayer will be replaced by Bill Grewcock of Omaha, who returns to the commission after being appointed by Gov. Mike Johanns.

Westcott, who owns a captive herd of bighorn sheep in Cherry County, said he saw no reason to exclude himself from voting on the proposal.

"The ban on bighorn sheep production is in eight counties in the Panhandle," Westcott said. "It doesn't affect me. I'm not in that area. So there was no need not to vote my convictions."

Westcott wanted the mule deer matter tabled until commission officials get the results of 805 deer killed by hunters that are being tested for CWD. He also wanted to wait until testing results are completed on those deer currently being killed outside a Sioux County ranch on which CWD has been found in captive elk and whitetail deer herds.

Gloria Erickson of Holdrege, a former commissioner and now president of the Nebraska Council of Sportsmen's Clubs, said she was delighted with the decision.

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