Thursday, February 2nd, 2023
Thursday, February 2nd, 2023

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State orders all deer killed at private facility

Editor's note: Due to a production error, the second half of this story did not appear in the print edition of Ohio Outdoor News dated Dec. 19. The complete story is printed here. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Chronic wasting disease discovered there earlier this fall

Reynoldsburg, Ohio — The state has ordered that all deer be killed at a private hunting preserve in Holmes County where chronic wasting disease was discovered earlier this fall.

In a letter dated Nov. 26, the Ohio Department of Agriculture informed Daniel Yoder, owner of World Class Whitetails of Ohio in Millersburg, that “all captive deer … be destroyed by ODA after an appraisal of the whitetail deer has been completed,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by Ohio Outdoor News.

As of Dec. 3, the depopulation of the ranch where CWD was discovered had not yet happened, said Erica Hawkins, a spokeswoman with ODA.

World Class Whitetails was placed under ODA quarantine in April, the letter states, ahead of the CWD finding because it had taken in deer from Pennsylvania that may have been exposed to the disease.

“Due to the positive test of an animal (for CWD) … all whitetail deer present at the preserve have been exposed to a dangerously contagious and infectious disease and therefore endanger the health or well-being of animal populations in the state of Ohio,” the letter states.

The letter is signed by state veterinarian Dr. Tony Forshey.

The ODA said Yoder violated the quarantine in effect at one of his breeding facilities known as Honey Run Farm in Millersburg. This facility, the ODA says, was placed under quarantine on Oct. 17, which prohibited any movement of deer on or off the premises without the consent of the agency. The facility has about 300 deer.

“Despite the quarantine, on Nov. 12 you introduced two deer on the quarantined premises without written consent of ODA,” the letter states.

The letter goes on to state that Yoder has “chronically violated record-keeping requirements” at farms he owns.

The depopulation of the hunting preserve is to be carried out by the ODA or its designee, the letter indicates.

“There shall be no hunting on the premises prior to the destruction of the whitetail deer on the premises,” the letter states.

Violation of this order is a fourth-degree misdemeanor, according to the letter.

If Yoder disagrees with the ODA’s findings, he can request a hearing before the state agency.

Yoder could not be reached for comment for this story.

Meanwhile, World Class Whitetails of Ohio remains under quarantine until it is lifted by the ODA.

As deer season continues until early February, the Ohio DNR and the ODA are urging deer hunters in Holmes County to assist in minimizing the risk of CWD. Successful hunters in Holmes County are encouraged to have their deer processed at a facility in the county and to see that the carcass remains within the county, as well.

At this time, no cases of CWD have been discovered in Ohio’s wild deer herd, and hunters should continue to enjoy deer hunting this season, the DNR has said.

These additional precautions follow the positive test for CWD earlier this fall at World Class Whitetails of Ohio in Millersburg.  Recently, six captive deer have been harvested outside of deer facilities in the county, two of which have been traced back to the affected facility, according to information from the DNR. Neither of those deer have tested positive for CWD. 

ODA has also sought a temporary restraining order that would prevent the operator of World Class Whitetails of Ohio from violating the conditions of the quarantine. The shooting preserve remains under quarantine and no additional deer at the facility have tested positive for CWD since the initial case was discovered, the ODA has said.

The request to process deer before transport applies to deer hunters only in Holmes County and has no impact on any existing deer hunting regulations, including bag limits, hunting times, or method of take either in Holmes County or across the state, according to the DNR.

If you kill a deer in Holmes County, DNR and ODA ask that:

• The whole carcass of a deer not be removed from the county.
• Hunters only move processed, deboned, or portions of meat free from any part of the spinal column out of the county.
• All deer harvested within the county be processed within the county or at the three designated sample collection sites in Wayne County (Canaan Meats, Shreve Meats, and Yoder Custom Meats).
• Any taxidermy be done within the county.

Again, these requests apply to deer taken in Holmes County only and are vital in the effort to prevent the spread of CWD, according to the DNR.

ODNR and ODA have been working closely in an effort to minimize the potential risk that CWD could spread to Ohio’s wild deer herd and the state is continuing to seek the assistance of hunters in the collection of samples to submit for CWD testing. 

The DNR Division of Wildlife has collected more than 75 samples in Holmes County for testing and will continue this effort at a number of locations throughout Wayne and Holmes counties, said Susie Vance, a spokeswoman for the Division of Wildlife.

“Those deer are what people are voluntarily dropping off at those specific collection sites in those five or six townships,” Vance said. “People have been great about getting us heads … The cooperation from the hunting community has been good.”

The disease, which hasn't been shown to infect humans, attacks the brain of the infected animal, produces lesions, and eventually kills the animal. An infected deer, elk, or moose will lose weight, salivate excessively, and increase drinking and urination. They will generally act abnormally, and may stumble or allow humans to get unusually close.

Other states have also taken precautions to keep the disease from infecting their deer populations. Earlier this month, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation tightened rules on hunters bringing game from Ohio.

At least 19 states have found the disease in their wild deer populations. Ohio was the 14th state to identify the disease in its captive population.

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