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From: TSS ()
Subject: Group slams state over deer situation
Date: April 8, 2005 at 1:39 pm PST

Group slams state over deer situation

Fri, Apr 8, 2005


A major conservation group is accusing the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets of failing to take measures to prevent an outbreak of chronic wasting disease -- and is calling for a quarantine of all domestic deer and elk herds in the state.

"We are appalled and dismayed at the lack of Agriculture and Markets' doing a better survey and management of game farms that have animals susceptible to Chronic Wasting Disease," New York State Conservation Council President Howard Cushing said in a statement Thursday.

But the Department of Agriculture and Markets strongly denied that it has been lax.

"New York has one of the most proactive CWD monitoring, control and surveillance programs in the country," department spokeswoman Jessica A. Chittenden said in a prepared statement.

She also said quarantining all domestic deer herds in response to finding the first two cases of the disease in the state was not supported by science or the experience of other states coping with the disease.

"New York has implemented a rapid, aggressive multi-agency response to the current incident," the statement read.

Last week, two white-tailed deer from private herds in Westmoreland tested positive for the neurological disease, which is fatal to some deer and elk species.

The illness is a prion disease, and falls in the same category as "mad cow" disease; however, there is no human neurological disease linked to CWD, according to the state Health Department.

Nonetheless, the spread of the disease among New York state's wild deer population could take a $40 million to $80 million bite out of the upstate economy, Cushing estimated.

"Motels, hotels and gas stations," Cushing said, reached by phone Thursday evening. "It's a big business and part of Upstate New York's economy."

Agriculture and markets is in charge of monitoring all animals that live on fenced-in farms, and the Department of Environmental Conservation will sample wild deer within a 10-mile radius of the farms where the disease was found.

The disease has been detected in both wild and captive deer and elk populations in 12 states in the West and Midwest.
Contact Elizabeth Cooper at


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