Now that chronic wasting disease has been found in a captive Pennsylvania deer, and more than a dozen deer farms in the state have been quarantined, you probably have an opinion about how the disease spreads.
As you listen to state officials and biologists, such as Kip Adams, the Quality Deer Management Association's director of education and outreach, blame deer farms for the deer- and elk-killing disease showing up in the East, you may think it is clear why the Pennsylvania Game Commission will be forced to spend millions of dollars trying to keep CWD from spreading through the commonwealth's wild deer population.
But one group, American Deer & Wildlife Alliance, which was founded in 2008 to promote "the deer and wildlife industries" (deer farms and high fence hunt operators) wants to convince you otherwise.
On the group's website it attempts to debunk six "myths" about how deer farms are responsible for spreading CWD.
"Radical activists from outside our industry as well as elitists from within have attacked and divided sportsmen for years," the website states. "They have pushed their own specific agendas and spewed a continuous stream of misinformation to sway public opinion against other deer and wildlife groups at a time when hunter unity should be paramount.
"If these attacks are unanswered, the end result will be an erosion of our personal freedoms, private property rights and our hunting heritage," the website continues. "The American Deer & Wildlife Alliance is committed to answering with scientific facts and information to help sportsmen work together in preserving our hunting heritage for future generations."
It makes for good reading. The "myths" will be of great interest to Pennsylvania readers:
1. Farm deer escape pens and infect wild deer with CWD.
2. CWD wipes out deer herds
3. CWD is the biggest threat to whitetail deer.
4. Hunting over bait spreads CWD.
5. CWD is deadly to humans.
6. States can eradicate CWD.
Blaming CWD on deer farming is either dishonest or ignorant, the Alliance contends. Maryland, New Mexico, Virginia and Wyoming all have documented cases of CWD, yet none of these states have a farmed elk or deer industry. And North Dakota and West Virginia have found CWD in the wild, while their farmed industry has tested thousands of animals, and all have been negative.
"Deer farming is one of the fastest growing industries in rural America, and the industry itself has lobbied legislators for 12 years in attempt to establish a national CWD rule," the website states.
It just goes to show, there are two sides to every story.