HSUS: Ban interstate game farm commerce

Staff Writer

Washington, D.C. America’s largest animal rights group is
calling on Congress to ban interstate movements of game farm deer
and elk to prevent the further spread of chronic wasting disease
(CWD).

“The game farm industry is threatening the much larger
industries of wildlife watching and hunting,” said Wayne Pacelle of
the Humane Society of the United States. “Introducing CWD to the
wild opens a real Pandora’s Box.”

Pacelle testified at a May 16 oversight hearing on CWD held by
the House Resources Committee. He said the federal government has
the authority to ban interstate movements of deer and elk. He
believes that is an appropriate role for government.

CWD has existed in the wild in portions of Colorado and Wyoming
for over two decades. In recent years, the disease has been found
in game farm herds. Some scientists believe new discoveries of the
disease in the wild are linked to movements of infected game farm
animals.

“Game farms are a breeding ground for CWD,” Pacelle said.

Opposition to game farms and, in particular, canned hunts of
pen-raised animals, has long been a cause of animal rights
advocates.

Pacelle said shooting opportunities provided by game farms are
unnecessary, because free-ranging deer and elk populations are at
record high levels.

Pacelle points to Wisconsin as a “chilling example” of what may
occur when CWD is discovered in wild deer. Wisconsin is attempting
to eradicate deer within the area where the disease has been
discovered in a few animals.

“Controlling the spread of CWD will cost the lives of tens of
thousands of animals,” said Pacelle, “not to mention the cost to
taxpayers.”

HSUS is concerned that game farms are turning wild animals into
“agricultural commodities.” Pacelle said that CWD control is
relying on what he calls “agricultural solutions.”

“They depopulate entire herds when a CWD infection is
discovered,” he said.

A better way, suggests Pacelle, is to stress CWD prevention
rather than eradication of the disease when it occurs. He said he
is hoping that animal advocates and hunters can unite to battle the
disease.

“There is strong potential for an alliance between animal
advocates and hunting groups, because we have a common interest in
battling CWD,” Pacelle said.

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