NADeFA: Open Letter On Arkansas' First Case of CWD

Last week, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission confirmed that an elk killed near the town of Pruitt tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a neurological disease which effects cervids such as elk and whitetail deer..

Over the years, we’ve all seen the headlines and heard the rhetoric that CWD will wipe out entire populations of deer and elk. We’ve seen wildlife professionals resort to scare tactics and innuendo to close down wildlife commerce, introduce oppressive legislation, and shut off new hunting opportunities.

But before the fear-mongering grows out of control and the media declares a ‘deerpocalyse,’ it’s important that any state agency response be based on science, not hysteria.

One media source reported that “CWD has a long-documented history of reducing deer populations throughout much of the country.” Where has this happened? Where is the statistical data that shows CWD is responsible for eradicating the deer population in any state? The truth is that the media and so-called experts cannot identify one deer or elk population that has been decimated by CWD because it doesn’t exist.

CWD is known to exist in both wild and managed environments, and the truth is that no herds have been ‘decimated’ by CWD. Not one.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife first identified CWD in a wild elk in 1981, marking the first documented case of CWD in the wild. If the often hyped massive contagion theory were true, CWD — as a highly infectious and uncontrollable disease — would have wiped out the elk in Colorado. But today — 35 years after CWD’s first discovery — the Colorado elk population is thriving.

The North American Deer Farmers Association (NADeFA) has been at the forefront of CWD research and prevention for nearly two decades.

From our experience, we know that for the health and well-being of animals — both wild and domestic — disease prevention is essential. It’s important for state officials, hunters and conservationists to work together to responsibly manage CWD and other diseases, and these efforts should always be guided by science and factual evidence, not headlines and hype.

Shawn Schafer, Executive Director
North American Deer Farmers Association