Mad Deer Disease Spreads into Wisconsin

Meat Man's Mad Rant Ignores Wisconsin's Mad Deer
Playing the Blame Game with Mad Deer and Game Farms
On-Line Buyers Beware of Elk Antler Supplements

Chronic Wasting Disease Moving East

For links inside these stories find them on PR Watch's Spin of the Day site

Friday, March 1

Meat Man's Mad Rant Ignores Wisconsin's Mad Deer

Dan Murphy, webmaster of, blusters on today about how the
General Accounting Office's warning that the US government is failing to
adequately prevent an outbreak of British mad cow disease is "a bunch of
BS." Says Murphy, "Could it happen here? ... It's possible. And it's also
possible that a trainload of lagered-up losers could pull into Columbus,
Ohio, the day before a Major League Soccer 'death match' between the Crew
and the LA Galaxy and tear up the town during a night of wanton rioting."
Ironically, Murphy's rant appears the day after newspapers announced that
chronic wasting disease, a mad cow-type disease being spread across North
America by deer and elk game farms, has been found for the first time east
of the Mississippi in wild Wisconsin white tailed deer. Despite the meat
industry's loud denials, the growing threat of mad cow-type diseases in the
US is real. For more info on mad cow-type diseases,our 1997 book Mad Cow USA
is available free on-line as a PDF download.

Monday, March 4, 2002

Playing the Blame Game with Mad Deer and Game Farms

The shocking news that the US epidemic of 'mad deer' disease has jumped
from the West to the Midwest and into the huge white tailed deer population
in Wisconsin has all players scrambling and pointing fingers. States that
depend on money from big game licenses are assuring the public that chronic
wasting disease (CWD) cannot infect and kill humans, although there is no
proof for that claim and some evidence to the contrary. The deer and game
farm industry blames state wildlife agencies, claiming the disease came from
wild animals, but in fact the evidence points to the game farm industry as
the culprit, spreading the disease by the virtually unregulated trafficking
in farmed deer and elk. And, the Colorado Division of Wildlife is calling on
all states to test game farms for the disease, much too late into a
disastrous epidemic. Source: Denver Post, March 4, 2002
Tuesday, March 5

On-Line Buyers Beware of Elk Antler Supplements

In December of 2000, journalist Hal Herring revealed in High Country
News that "the sale of velvet antler from domestic elk in North America is
estimated by its proponents to be a $3 billion industry. Korea is still the
primary destination for most velvet products, but promoters have created a
demand in the U.S. alternative medicine and nutritional supplement market."
This lucrative business of grinding up elk antlers and selling them as
nutritional supplements amounts to a world-wide uncontrolled experiment in
transmitting CWD (also called 'mad deer' or 'mad elk' disease) to humans.
Research scientist Dr. Bruce Chesebro told Herring that taking elk antler
supplements is "playing with fire. ... It's basicaly the same thing we do in
the lab with mice" to infect them experimentally. Yet no agency is warning
consumers, much less banning such dangerous experimentation, and sales
of velvet elk antler supplements are just a mouse click away.

Chronic Wasting Disease Moving East

Vet calls for testing of wild elk, deer

By Theo Stein
Denver Post Environment Writer

Monday, March 04, 2002 - Every state that has had game farms during
the last 10 years should immediately check for chronic wasting disease in
wild and captive herds of deer and elk, a Colorado wildlife veterinarian
said Friday.

The warning came days after startled Wisconsin officials disclosed that
three white-tailed bucks killed in an agricultural region near Madison
last fall tested positive for the fatal deer and elk disease.

It's the first time the relative of mad cow disease has been identified
east of the Mississippi River. Its arrival in Wisconsin places 20
million white-tailed deer in the eastern United States and Canada at risk.

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, eats away at
the brains of bovine victims. It reached epidemic levels in British cattle
during the mid-1990s.

"The irony is we'd started looking for (chronic wasting disease) a
couple of years ago just to be safe," said Julie Langenberg, a wildlife
veterinarian with Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources. "And now
we've found it. Who knows what else is going on in the Midwest?"

"That's what I worry about," said Colorado Division of Wildlife
veterinarian Mike Miller, one of the nation's foremost CWD researchers.
"There aren't a lot of states that are actually looking for it."

Officials are unsure how CWD arrived in Wisconsin, which is 900 miles
farther east than the disease had been seen before. But U.S. Department
of Agriculture spokesmen said the agency will investigate the dozens of
deer and elk farms near the game unit where the deer were shot, even
though none has reported a case of CWD.

"Somehow it was human-assisted," said Langenberg.

Wisconsin's voluntary CWD surveillance program wasn't started until
1997, and 44 of the state's elk farms have registered with the Wisconsin
Department of Agriculture. Just one of the state's 500 deer farms, which
are regulated by the Department of Natural Resources, is participating
in the program.

"I think the agency will now come out strongly in favor of mandatory
programs," Langenberg said.

National standards proposed by the USDA would require elk herds to be
monitored for five years before they could be declared free of CWD.

Not much is known about how CWD moves through herds of white-tailed
deer. But a recently discovered outbreak in northwest Nebraska has given
researchers pause: 24 of 62 deer killed inside a 1,500-acre Sioux County
shooting ranch - 39 percent - tested positive.

The implications of the disease running through the East's incredibly
dense white-tail herds - in some cases hundreds of animals per square
mile - make officials shudder.

"We're going to have to do some hard thinking about what this means,"
said Langenberg. "Unfortunately, this is the first time it's happened
with whitetails. So we're going to have to learn as we go."

One thing is certain: Three decades after it was first identified as a
killer of deer and elk, chronic wasting disease has broken out of its
15,000-square-mile stronghold on the borderlands of Colorado and Wyoming.

Two weeks ago, South Dakota officials acknowledged their first case of
CWD in a wild whitetails near a previously infected game farm south of
the Black Hills. In Nebraska, biologists shot more than a hundred deer
in the last two months near an infected ranch to find the extent of an
outbreak. A thousand miles to the north, Canadian biologists found
infected deer in a region where 38 elk farms were devastated by an
outbreak of the disease between 1997 and 2000.

Even though CWD's relative, mad cow disease, has killed more than 100
Europeans who ate tainted British beef, there is no evidence that the
deer disease can infect humans. But a 2001 study by a Montana lab
suggests that scrapie, another related disease, can infect new species
without causing symptoms for two or more generations.

Researchers say it's too early to conclude that the Nebraska and South
Dakota outbreaks were caused by game farms.

But elk breeders say that mismanagement of wild herds is the real problem.

"Wildlife officials have known that the disease existed in the wild, and
they have made virtually no efforts to eliminate the disease or even
stop its spread," said Lisa Villella, executive director for the North
American Elk Breeders Association, echoing a frequent complaint of
Colorado elk ranchers.

Last month, the Colorado Division of Wildlife finalized plans to shoot
more than 4,500 deer in three game units near Fort Collins to see if
reducing deer populations can slow the spread of the disease.,1002,53%257E439606,00.html

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