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Deer Farm Industry in Michigan Issues Statement on the Negative CWD Test Results at Kent County Deer Farm

HILLMAN, Mich., Sept. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- When Michigan's first chronic wasting disease case was diagnosed in a whitetail deer at a deer farm in Kent County, state and federal officials shot and killed the remaining deer on the farmer's property and began the process of testing them for CWD. The deer farm industry is issuing the following statement on the negative CWD test results on the rest of the herd at the Kent County Farm.

The deer farm industry today received welcome news when the Department of Agriculture released the negative CWD test results from tested herd at the location of Michigan's first CWD case. These tests are a clear illustration of the effectiveness of Michigan's protocols to handle a chronic wasting disease case. The swift and decisive response to this crisis appears to be working the way our industry, DNR, and MDA envisioned when the state's CWD policies were originally crafted.

The Cervid Farmers of Michigan, Michigan Deer and Elk Breeders Association, North American Deer Farmers Association and regulatory state agencies have long been committed to testing. Because of their commitment to testing, not only was a CWD case identified, it also apparently was contained.

We remain hopeful that after the investigation of this incident, there will be a decisive conclusion about how a deer contracted CWD. Since 2002, it has been illegal to import deer from out of state. The affected farm was in compliance with the law, which makes investigating this incident even more challenging.

We do not wish for any disease to be spread to a new area. Unfortunately, there are more questions than answers when it comes to CWD. We do not know with any degree of certainty the disease's origins and if it is likely spread through farms, free ranging deer or carcass transportation and nothing proves this more than the recent incident. The fact that the disease did not spread to other deer on the farm challenges almost everything anyone knows about this disease.

As the investigation and the testing continues, the deer farming industry in Michigan remains committed to preventing the spread of chronic wasting disease. We are cooperating fully with both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Natural Resources to bring a swift and conclusive resolution to this difficult situation. Clearly more research is needed for a "live" CWD test as well as determining what the percentage of false positives is with the current testing procedures.

Our commitment is to continue to assist and cooperate with state and federal officials to ensure that all deer remain disease free. We are committed to assisting in any way possible to find the cause and possible cure for chronic wasting disease. However, as a legal and highly-regulated industry we are asking for a swift resolution to this issue and the lifting of the quarantine on more than 600 deer farms. The Department of Natural Resources has expressed a commitment to begin the process of lifting the quarantine and we look forward to working with them to accomplish this goal.

Michigan's deer farms are virtually at a standstill because of the industry-wide quarantine. The recent public comments from MDA officials seem to indicate the department's willingness to bring the investigation to a swift conclusion and to ease the quarantine restrictions on Michigan's deer farms.

We also remain optimistic that Michigan's traditional deer hunting methods may also resume as they were prior to the CWD incident. The use of these methods provides local economic revenues and a positive hunting environment allowing for hunters to supply high numbers of harvested deer to be sampled for possible CWD in the wild during this forthcoming deer season.

We are encouraged by the test results and we believe the hard work that went into crafting Michigan's CWD policies has proved to be worthwhile. Now it is up to deer farmers, deer ranchers, hunters, outdoor enthusiasts and state and local regulatory officials to work together to ensure a successful hunting season in 2008.

SOURCE North American Deer Farmers Association; Cervid Farmers ofMichigan;
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