Monday, October 13, 2014

A Sick Deer-- Harbinger of Things to Come?

A neighbor a few miles away had a sick buck deer, acting tame, come up to his place covered with ticks and too weak to go much farther. He photographed it, and you can see photos of the deer on my website, given at the end of this column.

He called the Missouri Department of Conservation and was told to kill the deer and they would come and get it and try to find out what is wrong with it. I have seen that same situation at least three times in the wild… all three times the deer was a doe in the early fall so covered with ticks you couldn’t believe it unless you saw it. Once, the deer was very weak and sick, but the other two times they appeared normal and strong.

I always theorized that the deer had some sort of tick fever. It was not the blue tongue (epizootic hemorrhagic disease) you see in August and September of very dry hot summers. People who know about the mad-deer disease which is spreading in north central Missouri are going to be wondering if any diseased deer they see have that… chronic wasting disease as it is being called.

I think it is a few years away in the Ozarks, but it is coming. Trouble is, no one knows for sure how long it will take to spread throughout the state. When it does, hunters like me will likely quit hunting deer. The Missouri Department of Conservation fears that because it will cost them a lot of money.

They were geared up to start selling non-resident tags for hundreds of dollars to the wealthier out-of-state hunters looking for trophies. That ‘seven-point or greater’ rule put into affect in two thirds of Missouri only a few years ago was to serve that purpose… create more “trophies”. Biologically and enforcement wise it is a ridiculous concept. Some of the older agents told me that confidentially they wouldn’t even attempt to enforce it because of the silliness of it.

But hunters looking for trophies do not worry about chronic wasting disease, they don’t intend to eat the deer, they want a cape and a set of antlers, and that is it. From that concept the Conservation Commission did well in setting up a ‘share the harvest’ program which turned over venison the trophy hunters didn’t want to poor families who could use the meat.

With mad-deer disease spreading, that program should someday be stopped. No one should take a chance on eating the meat of a sick deer harvested perhaps in some other part of the state just for its antlers.

My oldest daughter is a doctor and I question her about the chronic wasting disease and have a hard time getting her to give me hard medical answers. She says it a disease spread by organisms called prions, and there isn’t anything she can say that the medical profession is absolutely sure of. To a doctor, mad-deer disease or mad-cow disease is known as ‘Creutzfeldt-Jakob’ disease, and it is an absolute fact that humans can get it if they eat meat from an animal with the disease, whether it is a cow or a deer, or an elk.

My daughter tells me that in her early years as a doctor, she saw a case of it at the University of Missouri hospital in Columbia. That was about 12 years ago.

Bill Zippro, a resident of Joplin, Mo insists that his brother died a young man of that disease because he killed and ate a huge buck which was acting very strange, and didn’t make any attempt to escape. He said his brother was shown to have the prions in his system, and the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta Georgia verified it. When he died, his family was refused a normal funeral, because his body had to be cremated quickly.

Some news agency somewhere should talk to Zippro and investigate this, but they won’t. The only thing you will ever see on this subject will have to be through the Conservation Department. Ozark news medias will not oppose them. Zippro thinks the huge deer his brother killed had been kept in captivity. He says that a similar death of a deer hunter occurred across the line in Kansas about the same time.

The Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease was created by feeding meat and bone meal to cattle in England in order to make them heavier and worth more money. The same thing created it in deer and elk in the United States, feeding a commercial food with meat and bone meal to herbivores in order to create bigger antlers.

You will never, ever hear the news media or the Conservation Department mention that when they discuss chronic wasting disease. In dozens of meetings on deer management held around the state in recent months, that meat and bone meal diet wasn’t even talked about. Hundreds of deer farms are enabled to continue because of the huge amounts they make on individual deer.

The mad-deer disease in north-central Missouri spread into the wild because deer in several of those penned-deer operations developed the disease and a few were turned into the wild to get rid of them. Some of those operations paid thousands for brood stock brought in from other states, which apparently spread the disease.

My daughter will not say that anyone eating a diseased deer may get the disease, but she does admit it is very possible. Prions aren’t bacteria and they are not virus. There really isn’t a good definition of exactly what they are! The idea seems to be that the prions exist in the brain and spinal fluid and possibly bone marrow, but not blood.

The Conservation Departments depending on deer tags for millions of dollars do not want to lose that revenue. But in time, they will not be able to hide what they know, and what is the truth. Like I said, I love venison, but my days of hunting deer are limited and thousands of hunters who learn the truth about this disease will join me. But some hunters will never know, and those who hunt only for trophies won’t care.

The “share the harvest’ program has other flaws. A Mtn. Grove resident, Larry Baty, retired from a Texas County pen-raised deer facility and told me this story. He says he saw a big buck raised from a fawn and sold to a Texas hunter for 26 thousand dollars.

The hunter brought his young daughter up to kill the buck, which was about half tame, in order to have the head mounted. Baty said that he had to inject the buck with a chemical to calm it down in order to move it to the area where it was to be shot. Then the next day he had to inject it with another chemical to make it hyper and give the appearance of a wild deer.

He gave me the boxes the chemicals came in and both said… “Warning…Not to be used on food animals.” The Texan and his daughter didn’t want the meat, and the venison, like that of a dozen other deer similarly injected, was given to the MDC for distribution to poor families that fall through the ‘share your harvest’ program.

Whoever ate those deer never knew that they had a dangerous chemical in the meat. Now even more, it will be risky to eat deer meat you know nothing about. Don’t do it!!! Probably right now the risk isn’t very high, but it may increase as chronic wasting disease spreads.

My website is and the email address is My postal address is Box 22, Bolivar, Mo. 65613.

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