CWD testing pulled from fall proposals

Columbus – A law that would require private deer propagators to
test for Chronic Wasting Disease was pulled off the table at the
last minute by the DNR_Division of Wildlife.

The mandatory testing requirement was to be a part of
regulations proposed for passage on Sept. 25 at a state fish and
wildlife hearing (Ohio Outdoor News, Aug. 1).

After meetings with the Ohio Department of Agriculture stalled,
however, that part of the proposal was pulled, according to Dave
Risley, the Division of Wildlife’s administrator for wildlife
management and research.

“We have some logistical and technical issues that have to be
worked out with the Department of Agriculture,” Risley told the
Ohio Wildlife Council Sept. 24.

One of the most common complaints at the recent district open
houses regarding captive deer challenged the Division of Wildlife’s
regulatory authority over these operations, Risley said.

“That has been an issue for a long, long time,” he said. “They
feel they’re agriculture and should be recognized by the Department
of Agriculture.”

A letter was also submitted to DNR Director Sean Logan from Curt
Waldvogel, president of Whitetail Deer Farmers of Ohio, regarding
the proposed rules. Part of the letter said the association opposes
the mandatory CWD testing rule as it was written. The letter went
on to state that the association does support increased testing
among deer farmers and the whitetail group would like to meet with
the Division of Wildlife and ODA to develop rules for deer
propagation.

“We know that CWD testing is coming and we don’t oppose that as
long as it can be done in a responsible manner and if we can sit
down and help the Division of Wildlife and Department of
Agriculture to write a rule that makes sense,” Waldvogel said in an
interview.

Whitetail Deer Farmers of Ohio has about 300 members, which
includes deer propagators and shooting preserve operators.

Previously, the wildlife division also pulled a proposal that
would have been possession of wild boars on shooting preserves
(Ohio Outdoor News, Sept. 26).

Neither issue will go away, promised Dave Graham, the division’s
chief.

“I don’t want you to think we don’t fee like there’s a problem
(with hogs),” Graham told Ohio Wildlife Council members in late
September.”We know we’ve got a problem out there and it continues
to expand. We don’t want to become one of the 38 or 39 states that
has let it get out of hand.”

Wildlife authorities have said there are pockets of wild hogs
particularly in southeast and western Ohio that have potential to
wreck public habitat. The proposed ban on possession, agency
officials have said, is an attempt to curtail the possibility of
preserve escapees contributing to the population.

“We do intend to solve this issue one way or another,” Graham
said.

Dominic Marchese, a wildlife council member from northeast Ohio,
suggested that hunters might be urged to shoot more hogs if there
were a bounty on them like there was with coyotes years ago.

“I’m not sure if a bounty is the right idea,” Graham said. “The
reality of it is, that didn’t really solve the problem (with
coyotes). There’s still plenty of them out there and I’m sure
plenty of dogs, pets, met their demise.”

As for mandatory CWD_testing at private facilities, Graham said
the wildlife division will continue to press that issue as
well.

“I think what the captive deer industry has to realize about CWD
testing is that it’s going to be the cost of doing business if you
want to stay in business,” he said. “It’s right on our doorstep and
if we get it it’s going to close down both sides of the fence.”

Graham said the_Division of Wildlife will continue to pursue
mandatory testing.

“We need to be able to sit down with (the Department of
Agriculture) and develop an exact testing protocol,” he said.

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