CWD Detected at Gillespie County Deer Breeding Facility

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was discovered at a deer ranching facility in Gillespie County.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) are working collaboratively to determine the source and extent of the first positive detection of the disease in this county.

Following identification of a white-tailed deer mortality at the scene, tissue samples from the yearling male were submitted by the deer-breeding facility as part of a mandatory monitoring program for the MDC.

Immediate action was taken to secure all deer at the facility and plans to conduct further CWD investigations are underway. Other breeding facilities that have received deer or shipped deer to this facility in the past five years have been identified and placed under movement restrictions.

“Response personnel are working diligently to conduct epidemiological investigations, but the nature of the disease makes definitive conclusions difficult to determine,” said TAHC state veterinarian Dr. Andy Schwartz. “The incubation period for CWD can stretch for years, creating challenges in disease detection and management.”

Animal health and wildlife officials will investigate to determine the extent of the disease in the facility and to mitigate risk to Texas CWD-susceptible species. Early detection of CWD can help mitigate the spread of the disease.

“The discovery of CWD in this breeding facility is an unfortunate situation that TPWD and TAHC take very seriously,” said John Silovsky, Director of TPWD’s Wildlife Division. “Both agencies will respond appropriately to this question to protect the state’s susceptible species from further exposure to the disease.”

First recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado, CWD has since been documented in captive and/or free-ranging deer in 30 states and three Canadian provinces.

To date, 376 captive or free-ranging cervids, including white-tailed deer, mule deer, red deer and elk, across 15 Texas counties have tested positive for CWD.

TPWD officials will work to delineate and establish a new zone in Gillespie County to be implemented later this fall.

Hunters in Surveillance and Containment Zones must meet requirements for submission of CWD Susceptible Harvested Species. TPWD will provide additional information to landowners and hunters in Gillespie County regarding CWD sampling locations and options for having their deer tested.

Hunters outside established surveillance and containment zones are encouraged to voluntarily submit their harvest for free testing at a control station before returning home. A map of TPWD checkpoints for all CWD areas is available on the TPWD website.

CWD is a fatal neurological disease found in certain deer, including deer, elk, moose and other members of the deer family. The disease is highly transmissible and can remain contagious in the landscape for several years. If left unmanaged, chronic wasting disease can have long-term impacts on the native deer herd and local economies.

Clinical signs may include gradual weight loss, stumbling or shaking with lack of coordination, excessive thirst, excessive drooling or urination, loss of appetite, grinding of teeth, abnormal head posture and/or droopy ears. These signs may not appear until long after the animals have been infected.

To date, there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease poses a risk to humans or non-cervids. However, as a precautionary measure, the US Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend against eating meat from infected animals.

For more information on chronic wasting disease, visit the TPWD website or the TAHC website.