CWD Found in Deer on Fairchild Area Farm, Owner Expects All Deer to be Killed, Tested

Source: Joe Knight
 
A 7-year-old white-tailed doe from a Fairchild area deer farm that died June 8 had chronic wasting disease, according to state veterinarian Paul McGraw.
 
The CWD detection announced Wednesday was confirmed recently by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.
 
The deer farm, Fairchild Whitetail, is quarantined - live deer cannot be removed unless they are taken to slaughter. The farm has 167 deer on 12 acres.
 
This is the first confirmed case of the lethal deer disease in Eau Claire County.
 
The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's Animal Health Division is investigating the movements of the doe, which was born at the facility.
 
"We'll look into the doe's history, and any movements on or off the property," said Raechelle Cline of the DATCP, adding that it hasn't been determined if all the deer at the farm will have to be put down.
 
But the farm's owner, Rick Vojtik, said he expects all deer on the farm will be killed and tested within the next few weeks.
 
"It's a rough situation for me," Vojtik said. "I may end up having to de-populate the whole herd; then the area would be quarantined off for five years."
 
A baiting and feeding ban is expected to be imposed in Eau Claire County and some adjacent counties. State law requires that counties, or portions of counties within a 10-mile radius of a game farm or location where a CWD-positive deer is found are subject to a ban on feeding deer or hunting over bait.
 
Vojtik said he has tested every deer on the property over the past 16 years. Every deer, including this doe's mother, were negative for CWD. The doe looked healthy, he said. and he believed she died from complications related to carrying a fawn. 
 
"She was actually pregnant. There's always a percentage that die in fawning. She was a fat old doe," he said.
 
State law requires every deer that dies on a deer farm to be tested for CWD.
 
"It's really a strange situation to me," said Vojtik, who spent Wednesday in Madison discussing the case with McGraw. He said he only learned of the positive confirmation Monday
 
Vojtik said he doesn't have an answer of where the disease came from. It could have been a spontaneous mutation, although state animal health experts generally don't consider that as a possibility, he said.
 
He expanded the holding pens into a new area, and it's possible CWD was in the soil at the new pens, he said.
 
There is some evidence now that the prions that cause the disease can be taken up by corn or hay, and he feeds the deer lots of corn, Vojtik said.
 
"They're throwing a lot of different theories at me," he said.
 
The affected deer was never off the farm, which is enclosed by a high fence, and it could never have had contact with wild deer that might have had the disease.
 
Vojik said it is puzzling how a case of CWD may pop up in a herd that has previously had a clean record. Recently in Ohio, CWD was detected in a deer farm with more than 500 deer. The deer were all killed and tested, but no additional diseased animals were found.
 
"I'm sure there'll be a stir in the public," he said.
 
Vojtik owns a separate deer hunting ranch in the Fairchild area called American Adventure Ranch, but animals from his deer farm have rarely gone to the hunting operation, which is not under quarantine, he said.
 
All deer shot on that ranch have been tested, and CWD has never been found there, he said.
 
Vojtik said he imports deer from other areas, including other states, for the hunting ranch.