Texas Slaughters Hundreds Of Diseased Deer Over 85-Year-Old Rancher's Protests

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Texas Slaughters Hundreds Of Diseased Deer Over 85-Year-Old Rancher's Protests

By Roque Planas

May 31, 2024, 05:34 PM EDT


The small size of breeder pens unnaturally concentrates deer, which can facilitate the spread of CWD once the disease appears. Over the time that Williams avoided depopulation, some 254 of the deer he bred tested positive for the disease, with a prevalence rate of 72%, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.

The ranch's pens held 637 deer at the time the first case of CWD was discovered in March 2021. The herd dwindled by more than half in the three years that followed — a rate of 2% per week, according to state officials.

Texas Hundreds of deer test positive for CWD on Trophy Ranch


In a November legal filing, the state wrote that RW Trophy Ranch "now hosts the worst-ever CWD outbreak in Texas." In a mid-March filing, the department notified the state Supreme Court that there had been 208 positive CWD cases at the ranch over the previous three years. Parks and Wildlife staff said this week that the number continued to rise, and reached 254 by Tuesday morning.


Houston [14th] Court of Appeals Upholds Animal Health Commission White-Tailed Deer Quarantine Authority

George Christian | Feb 14, 2024

The Houston [14TH] Court of Appeal has upheld the Texas Animal Health Commission's authority to order a landowner to quarantine a herd of white-tailed deer to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease.

RW Trophy Ranch, Ltd. and Robert Williams v. Texas Animal Health Commission; Andy Schwartz, DVM, Executive Director; and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department(No. 14-23-00242-CV; filed January 18, 2024) arose from a hold order issued by TAHC in May 2021 directing RW Trophy, which owns and operates a deer-breeding facility, to quarantine the facility in response to a positive test for chronic wasting disease in a deceased member of the herd. In August 2021 RW Trophy tested 49 bucks that it wanted to release for hunting season and requested TAHC approval to release them to a contiguous site owned by RW Trophy. TAHC responded that RW needed to agree to a herd plan prior to releasing any deer from the breeding facility and provided it with two alternatives. The proposed plans included a statement that RW had lost its herd certifiction status as a result of the positive test and directed RW to euthanize all of its white-tailed deer.

RW filed an appeal to the cancellation of its herd certification status, as provied by TAHC rules. Those rules required RW to state the nature of its objection to the herd plans and provide a "short, plain sttement of the issues that shall be the subject of the appeal." RW's owner, however, simply stated that he objected to the plans and wanted to discuss the release of the 49 bucks. After a telephonic meeting between the agency and the owner, the agency did not issue a written decision or hold a contested case hearing, the next step in the process. RW sued TAHC in Travis County district court in January 2022, seeking a declaration that TAHC's rules exceeded its statutory authority and mandamus relief against TAHC's executive director. The agency filed a plea to the jurisdiction and motion for summary judgment, in response to which RW filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted the agency's plea and summary judgment motion and denied RW's cross-motion. RW appealed, and the case was transferred from the Austin Court of Appeals to the 14TH Court under SCOTX's docket equalization rule.

The court of appeals affirmed. RW first argued that TAHC's executive director deprived RW of a contested case appeal by not issuing a written ruling after his meeting with RW, as required by rule. The court rejected this argument on the basis that RW never stated the reason for its appeal or even mentioned the agency's order revoking its herd certification, merely alluding to its desire to release the 49 bucks to its adjacent property. Because it never perfected an appeal under the rules, the agency was under no obligation to issue a decision that could be appealed in a contested case hearing. RW then argued that TAHC did not have statutory authority to regulate white-tailed deer because its authority extended only to livestock, domestic animals, and certain fowl. The court rejected this argument as well, pointing out that § 161.041, Agriculture Code, gives TAHC the authority to "act to eradicate or control any disease or agent of transmission for any disease that [a]ffects livestock, exotic livestock, domestic fowl, or exotic fowl, regardless of whether the disease is communicable, even if the agent of transmission is an animal species that is not subject to the jurisdiction of the commission." As the statute expressly grants rulemaking authority to implement this directive, the court ruled, TAHC's authority to order the landowner to quarantine and slaughter an infected herd were well within the terms of the statute. Finally, RW asserted that TAHC could not block the release of the 49 bucks to its contiguous land. Again, the court demurred, pointing out that although TAHC may not adopt a rule that prohibits a person from moving animals owned by that person within unquarantined contiguous land owned or controlled by the person, that does not apply to the movement of animals from quarantined to unquarantined land. The court thus affirmed the trial court.


Texas TAHC TPWD Confirm 132 More Cases of CWD TSE PrP

Jumps from 663 in March, to 795 Positive In May 2024, wow!



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