Thirty-six deer from a private deer farm near Denver have been euthanized and the owner compensated for the loss of his business.
Following the May 15 killing of the deer by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, one of the deer tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease.
It was the third deer from Greenville Whitetails to be found with the incurable disease that threatens Pennsylvania’s wild deer herd.
The first had been found in a 2.5-year-old buck on the property as part of mandated testing. A second deer from the farm tested positive for CWD after being shot on a private hunting preserve in Wisconsin.
The discoveries resulted in the Pennsylvania Game Commission creating the state’s fourth CWD disease containment zone that extended 10 miles in each direction, affecting parts of Lancaster, Lebanon and Berks counties.
The restrictions prohibit hunters from transporting the heads or backbones of deer they shoot from the zone and bars the public from feeding deer so they don’t congregate and spread the disease to each other.
It is not known whether infected deer from the fenced deer farm in West Cocalico Township may have spread to wild deer. Extensive testing of road-killed and hunted deer is underway.
The Greenville Whitetails deer were first sedated by a veterinarian before being euthanized.
Ken Gehman, owner of the deer farm, said, “In one sense, it’s a relief to know that you are not going to be spreading the disease any further.
“Certainly I miss this time of year when they were fawning.”
Gehman, who started the business in 2006, said the state did what it had to do to address the threat of the disease in his deer.
He said he was compensated for losing his business by the federal government.
The state Department of Agriculture applied for indemnification funds on behalf of Gehman to the federal Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
But neither of the agencies would reveal how much of taxpayer funds were awarded for compensation.
APHIS spokeswoman Donna Karlsons said the agency provides compensation for the appraised value of the deer that are destroyed, up to $3,000 per animal.
CWD has been found in 24 states and significantly decreased deer populations in some. In Pennsylvania, CWD was first found in 2012 on a private deer farm in Adams County.
Since then, it has been found in 98 free-ranging deer in five counties and in captive deer in five counties, including Lancaster.
CWD, a relative of Mad Cow Disease, has been found in 24 states, causing much worry among hunters and wildlife managers.
The disease has not been found to infect humans though a 2017 study by German and Canadian scientists found macaques monkeys contracted the disease when fed infected meat from deer and elk.
The latest position from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is this: “To date, there is no strong evidence for the occurrence of CWD in people, and it is not known if people can get infected with CWD prions. Nevertheless, these experimental studies raise the concern that CWD may pose a risk to people and suggest that it is important to prevent human exposures to CWD.”