Equal time: CWD not a concern


Yesterday’s story on the perils of Chronic Wasting Disease certainly provoked a unique response.

I heard from many good folks who raise captive deer, who said there are enough controls in place. CWD is not an issue. The state’s borders should remain open to importing captive deer. They said the NRA’s position was wrong.

The backlash, if you could even call it that, was unique – a far cry from the hate, discontent and occasional death threats I receive as a reporter.

Most of the calls and emails that came in started out thanking me for my military service, and asking for equal time on this site.deer

To be clear, I will always offer equal time.

As I pointed out yesterday, the Unified Sportsmen of Florida and NRA want the state’s borders closed to captive deer – not only for humane reasons, but pragmatic ones. If CWD gains a foothold, the state will lose millions of dollars in hunting revenue, they say.

The folks who reached out yesterday weren’t keen on having their names used in this story. Most, if not all, are life or endowment members of the NRA.

Here’s some statistics and a statement they sent:

Current existing rules by USDA and the Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services require all interstate transportation of deer to be:

1)      Tested for brucellosis.

2)      Tested for tuberculosis.

3)      Permitted by state vets in the sending state, pass through states, and the recipient state.

4)      And must be from a 5 year CWD free herd as certified by the USDA.

If a deer has been infected with CWD, the average incubation is 23 months, with the longest case being 35 months.  Thus the five years required by the USDA more than covers the issue of dormancy.

Since the inception of the USDA/DACS program over a decade ago, not one single case of CWD has ever been detected in a shipped deer, not one.  No different than the interstate movement of cows who can get mad cow disease, or sheep getting scrapies, or horses carrying sleeping disease, there is always risk with moving animals.

What we must do is to create a set of rules/laws/best management practices based upon the best available science in the world, not scare tactics.

Texas banned the importation of deer 11 years ago and just had CWD show up last year.

Attached is a letter speaking to the FWC proposed changes by a leading cervid researcher, Dr. Clifford Shipley, from the University of Illinois.

Some highlights are:

1. The (current) USDA rules “more than adequately address the issue of herd monitoring programs that cover all cervids that contract CWD.”

2. This monitoring program is more than adequate to contain the disease.

3. The current situation where Florida seeks to ban importation of certain cervid species make no biological or economic sense.


About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.


  1. Frank Denninger on

    Folks who are so gutless they fear their name being associated with their thoughts on an issue as critical to the well being of people and wildlife at risk of contracting CWD should never be facilitated to do so as has been done here by the reporter being a proxy for them.
    I am not schooled in journalism but I hope journalists are not taught to do this except in extreme political issues where some governments kill their opponents voicing critical opinions..

  2. I am a Florida hunter and this is baloney. This is our state, our hunting heritage, our home.

    Dr. Shipley did not tell the whole story. What he failed to mention is that he is on the board of directors for North American Deer Farmers Association and he has a financial motive for keeping the Florida borders open. He and other non-Floridians, including others in his association, are fighting to prevent this law from passing. The reason is so that they can continue to ship deer from the North and sell them in Florida for big dollars.

    They say, “not one single case of CWD has ever been detected in a shipped deer, not one.” That is true because they don’t test all their dead deer; they just bury them.

    Texas banned the importation of deer 11 years ago and just had CWD show up last year. The reason that Texas got CWD is because a CWD infected deer walked across the state line from a bordering, infected state. This could not happen in Florida because all bordering states are closed to the importation of live deer and have no cases of CWD within their borders.

    If you think the Florida monitoring program is “more than adequate to contain the disease,” then you must not be aware that Florida HAS NO Chronic Wasting Disease monitoring program. If Florida did have such a program it would cost millions of dollars that Florida would more than likely have to add a new tax to pay for.

    This is our hunting heritage and our state. If Chronic Wasting Disease finds its way to Florida, our hunting way of life will be forever gone as we know it. Our children’s future hunting opportunities and the health of Florida’s wildlife are at stake.

    This is my redneck take on the issue. THE BORDERS SHOULD BE CLOSED IMMEDIATELY!

    Best Regards,

  3. Pingback: On scientific experts - The Gun Writer

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