Rebuttal to North Carolina's News Observer

Honest public debate on any topic is healthy and a cornerstone of our American system. But when debate is clouded by misinformation and lazy journalism, our system is undermined and citizens are unable to make informed decisions. Misinformation on North Carolina’s deer farming debate published in Mike Marsh’s recent article is a good example.

Mason leads off with the statement “Chronic Wasting Disease is decimating deer populations in at least 22 states.” This is false. There is NOT one state, let alone 22, that has experienced a significant loss in its deer population due to CWD. In fact, there has never been one documented case of a herd (wild or farmed) being lost due to a so-called CWD “contagion.”

The statement that “North Carolina remains CWD-free because it has only 37 deer farms and a moratorium against new ones” demonstrates a lack of understanding about the transmission of the disease. Mason infers CWD only originates from deer farms, when just the opposite is true. USDA studies show CWD is transmitted in the wild by deer, crows, small varmints and plants as well as transportation of carcasses by hunters. Plus, how would Mason explain that Maryland, New Mexico, Virginia and Wyoming all have documented cases of CWD, yet none of these states have deer farms. North Dakota, Texas and West Virginia have found CWD in the wild, while their deer farmers have tested thousands of animals, and all CWD-free.

Mason also writes “deer farmers have everything to gain from this (proposed regulation) and deer hunters have everything to lose.” Again, this is misleading and suggests deer farmers are reaping rewards while risking nothing. The fact is deer farmers have far more at risk than any hunter or taxpayer. They have EVERYTHING to lose. It’s their livelihood. Their home. Their land. A single case of CWD can devastate them and their families.

Deer farming has been in the United States since 1908, and it’s a growing agriculture-based industry. We welcome honest debate and gladly respond to anyone who requests information.

Shawn Schafer, Executive Director
North American Deer Farmers Association