The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 13, 2012

Daily discussion: Did the state go overboard in response to chronic wasting disease?


The state dug up receipts, breeding records and other paperwork and found that deer which had either direct or indirect contact with the confirmed CWD doe now live on 27 different farms in the state. Those facilities were all recently quarantined, including two local farms – the Beachels and Nittany Mountain Hunting Preserve near New Columbia.

The state has a reported 1,100 deer farms and hunting preserves. The 27 quarantined farms represent  a hair more than 2 percent of the state’s deer facilities. For a handful of the state’s deer producers, the quarantine was like winning the lottery – in a negative way.

It leaves people like the Beachels struggling to understand.

“And why? Because we happened to buy deer from a farm that years ago sold a 3-week-old fawn that eventually died from chronic wasting disease in a different part of the state?” said Melissa Beachel. “Who’s to say it didn’t get the disease at some point over the past several years down there?”

Of course, the state does not want to see CWD leak into the wild deer population for many reasons, including the loss of massive amounts of hunting revenue. According to Nittany Mountain Hunting Preserve owner Michael Ficks, the state acted appropriately in setting up the quarantines.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” Ficks said. “If there is something out there, we need to stop it. I respect the state for taking a hard stance on the issue.”

Not that Ficks doesn’t feel the negative effects of the quarantine himself.

“The feed bill just keeps rising. We had considered scaling down as it was,” he said. “It is a lot of work. You feed and care for the deer all the time waiting to get to this point when we start having hunts and now we can’t do it.”

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