Disease found in Sioux County elk

December 15, 2001 World-Herald Bureau by Larry Porter
A Sioux County rancher whose elk herd is quarantined because six animals have tested positive for chronic wasting disease within the past year may receive as much as $ 255,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture if an estimated 85 bull elks are killed.

Dr. Roger "Butch" Sahara of Chadron, Nebraska Department of Agriculture veterinary field officer, said he hopes a plan will be developed by January in which all the elk will be killed in a herd owned by Richard Edwards, who operates a hunting facility northeast of Harrison.

Hunting facilities receive from $ 10,000 to $ 15,000 from hunters for good bulls, Sahara said. The USDA has agreed to pay Edwards 80 percent of the fair market value of each animal, up to $ 3,000. If Edwards has 85 bulls, the maximum payment he will receive from the USDA is $ 255,000.

Two other herds in the U.S. are scheduled to be destroyed before the Edwards herd, Sahara said.

"As soon as we're notified that funds are available," Sahara said, "we'll sit down with Richard Edwards and discuss the appraisal of the animals."

Edwards also has an estimated 200 white-tailed deer confined behind a 10-foot fence, Sahara said. Five of 10 deer tested in the past two months for CWD from that captive herd have tested positive.

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission officials have said all the whitetails must also be killed.

Sahara said if a payment for the whitetail deer is made to Edwards, it will not come from the USDA because the deer are not part of a permitted facility that is under the jurisdiction of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

It is illegal for individuals to own white-tailed deer in Nebraska. Bruce Morrison, a commission biologist, said Edwards put up the fence and enclosed the deer about 1991 before it was illegal to keep captive whitetails.

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