Skip to comments.IS THE USDA TRYING TO SCARE OFF HUNTERS?
Posted on 09/26/2002 8:17:11 AM PDT by logic101.net
IS THE USDA TRYING TO SCARE OFF HUNTERS?
MARK A SITY
Last fall Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was discovered for the first time in WI. It has been present in the west for years, but this is the first time it has crossed the Mississippi River. It is a disease very similar to "mad cow disease", only it affects deer instead. Deer hunters (including myself) are very concerned about eating the meat from infected animals. The best known defense for limiting the spread of this disease is to thin the deer population. Having a lot of hunters in the woods and swamps is the easiest, cheapest (actually it makes a profit for the state), most humane, and least wasteful option for doing this. However, deer license sales in WI are down 30% from last year. This will only help the problem to spread to other states.
I consider where I hunt to be safe for this season, it is far enough away from any known case; however, by next season I will not consider any area in WI safe. If I am not allowed an option to have a deer tested, I'll put the deer gun in a far back corner of the gun safe for the duration. In researching this subject I found that there is one organization that is preventing me from being able to have my deer tested at my own cost; the USDA.
Is the USDA attempting to scare off hunters? Yes, this is an inflammatory question, but one that needs to be asked. The USDA's stated objective is a safe commercial food supply; they have no vested interest in wild game. Every organization's goal is growth, if big game hunting in the USA ended there would be more demand for commercial meat such as beef and pork because hunters will not be filling their freezers with venison. This would mean a bigger budget for the USDA, more people working for them, more work for them to do. I can't help but wonder if this is not the reason they will not allow private companies to test for CWD. When this first hit WI, my first thought was to allow veterinarians to test deer for hunters; they have all the equipment (so I thought), and most of the training. I was wondering why such a solution was being blocked, and by who. I went to the Whitetails Unlimited web site, and discovered this page, http://www.whitetailsunlimited.com/pages/CWD%20Pages/TestingforCWD.htm . This told me who, but not why; which I had to infer. Perhaps it is just a desire to keep their monopoly on this testing process, or perhaps it is something more sinister. Either way, the USDA stance does not promote the public good.
In addition, limiting the availability of testing to a few government run sites increases the costs by limiting the supply and increasing transportation costs. It also limits the number of hunters in the woods and swamps by scaring them off. I will not feed my family meat that is suspect, so why would I hunt for suspect meat? Why will out of state hunters come to WI to hunt suspect meat? Heck, I just might go to KY next year to hunt pigs instead; I know they are safe as long as you cook it fully (and that you get that ticked off boar before he gets you!). Maybe I'll go to PA for deer, where the herd is safe for a couple of years. Maybe I'll save up my hunting money for a trip up to AK for moose.
The one thing I will not do, however, is to hunt for deer in an area where this disease is known to exist without an option to know if it is safe to feed to my family. The refusal of the USDA to allow private citizens to have their deer tested is not only elitist, but unconscionable and self-serving. Not only will they not allow private companies to learn how to do the recommended test, they will not allow us to send our deer to USDA labs; not enough capacity. Where does this leave the hunter? Their stance will allow this disease to spread all the way to NY state and Georgia within 5 years, since eastern deer herds are much more dense than the herds west of the river. It may be seen on the east coast even sooner, since many hunters will be putting their guns away.
This situation should have been addressed when it was first found in the US, after a test developed. Those areas that were infected could have been granted special hunts, with sharp-shooters coming in after to totally eliminate all suspect animals. This would have eradicated the disease. It is not too late to do so on this side of the river; but soon it will be, if pressure isn't put on the USDA to get out of the way and release their monopoly power over this testing process. I'd willingly pay a vet $50 to test a deer for me, and with competition for my business, I'd get the results in a few days rather than the weeks the USDA takes. This would keep me in the swamp in future years. At the moment, this looks like my last season.
Any suggestions on where to go in northern KY for wild pigs?
MARK A SITY
It is time for a letter writing FREEP action.
MARK A SITY
PS. To any anti-hunters here; CWD is a disease that affects the brain. Deer are some of the most skitish critters on the planet. But a deer that has an advanced case will not even run from a gun shot. It will just stand there because it has become so stupid as to not know it is in danger. Or perhaps, it is just wishing for an end to the confusion and pain? Even PETA nuts should be in favor of eliminating this threat to the herds. We can sort out our meat issues later. Although, perhaps the PETA and ALF/ELF types already have CWD? That would explain alot.
It's bad enough to have to give up deer hunting, they might be around 125# of meat, but gezz; to have to give up Elk! That would be a real killer! However, if we were allowed an option to test the critter....
On this side of the river; we still have a chance to wipe it out. Sorry to say it is too late by you; very sorry - heck my adopted home state is AK! It's personal on BOTH sides of the river for me! I'm only still here for family considerations. I made Carla read James Mitchner's book "ALASKA" before I'd propose and told her that when I say it is time; we're gone!
To quote the one we both hate; "I feel your pain" - but in this case - I mean it! I'm an Alaskan in my soul. There is no way to prevent this disease from getting there, if it hasn't already.
But gezz, give the hunters a chance to know their meat is safe BEFORE they feed it to their families!
MARK A SITY
So far as is known, after more than 30 years of study of Chronic Wasting Disease of deer and elk, it is NOT transmissible to humans.
- Over most of the 35 years the number of confirmed cases remained very small. The recent increase might just be due to better detection, more testing, and increased awareness.
- the disease is protein related, simply killing the infected animals will not 'cure' an area. In the earliest instances, even after the infected stock were gone for over six months, new stock in the same pens developed the disease.
- at some point (in Idaho, Colorado, I think), testing was required at hunter check-in stations.
- The specific strain infecting Elk was thought to not be easily transferred to whitetail or muledeer (I forget why they said that), but there were cases.
- AT THAT TIME, no human had ever caught the disease by eating infected meat. Even in England, the people infected were rose gardeners who had been handling bone meal from infected cattle.
I think testing should be mandatory and openly provided by whomever - vets, state P&W/F&G, etc. at cost. I also think they should institute strict controls on the tranfer of penned stock (since this is where CWD is most common).
I am not aware of any cases in Texas, although I have tuned out for a while. Many ranches do import/transfer penned stock as part of their wildlife management program. Texas needs to very tightly control/monitor that, or we will end up with infected deer in the Texas wild.
Yes, they say the spinal cord is the conduit for the disease; and even if I shot a deer and had the ability to test it, I would not take it to a butcher. The potential risk is too great. Much is unkown, too much.
But, let's take a look at reality here. I was a meat cutter for almost a decade. The pirons are, from what I have been able to asertain, all through the meat, they just concentrate in the spinal fluid. Is a butcher shop going to wash their grinder between deer? Nope. At $10-15/hr they can't afford to. There will always be some mixing of meat. This is why pork is ground last; they HAVE to wash it before grinding anything else.
I have my own grinder, it's a small one that I got through Cabelas (sp? Sorry!). But, given my history; I like to take the meat through the entire process myself.
With the situation in WI, I would not take any meat to a butcher; there is too much chance of a mix of meat; and who knows how the guy who's deer was ground before you treated his - or if he bothered to test it (assuming we get the USDA to let go of their strangle-hold on testing).
Oh, and as far as the saw, do you have any idea how hard it is to clean off the blade on a meat band saw? The entire thing needs to be dis-assembled. In the past it wasn't a major problem, but now....
Mark A Sity
Again, there is NO evidence I have ever seen that humans can contract this disease- although it appears that every mammalian species that has been intensively studied for prion disease has some variant of this, they tend to be very specific to each species. The exception, of course, is "Mad Cow Disease", which has made the jump from (probably) sheep to cattle to humans.
The WI DNR would never be a party to a PETA/ALF scam. Plus, were this to be a "gun control" scam; I have no doubt that the NRA (of which I am a life member), would expose it.
Let's not get too conspiritorial here! It's bad enough as I put the situation!
MARK A SITY
I'll go for other game, or go to "safe" areas.
All I am asking for is the right to pay to have critters tested; without the USDA stopping me from doing so!
MARK A SITY
It is a shotgun only zone though.
Mark A Sity
Also, since something like 100 cases of HUMAN CJD occur each year in the U.S., it is likely that a single case in someone who ate elk (or squirrel, or Jello) is coincidental. The proteins can be differentiated, though, and I am sure that if ANY human case of "Chronic Wasting Disease" had been found, I would have seen it.
You know it always gets worse before it gets better. I'm afraid you might have to shoot a lot of deer and dispose of the meat, unless you can avoid the diseased stuff.
I heard the similar CJD in England was NOT XMIT'd by eating bad meat. The stomach acids should kill any proteins before they ever get to the blood stream.
We need more study and a solution that will get the herds back to health.
Remember the clowns who sold billions of drugs a year to treat ulcers, caused by a bacteria -- something you could see with any good microscope. We need somebody who can treat this and eliminate it.
Seriously though, last I checked (last season), the demand for elk permits in Colorado, Wyoming, and Idaho was very high. If somebody had contracted the human version of CWD, that would have made big news throughout the hunting world because of the number of guides operating in those states.
I buy elk from a ranch in western Illinois, They are tested when they are killed.
Illinois is not allowing ranches to import any new animals (deer or elk), but deer cross the mississippi sometimes, and wild elk have been sighted in some of the state's larger parks.