Fears Over Chronic Wasting Disease In Florida

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By Mike Vasilinda
September 3, 2013

On Friday, State Wildlife regulators in Florida will decide whether to ban imported deer into the state. The proposed ban is an effort to keep Florida deer safe from a cousin to Mad Cow disease. Now, the proposed ban is pitting hunting lodges against the NRA.

Chronic wasting disease affects deer, elk and moose. CWD is a cousin to Mad Cow. It turns animal's brains into Swiss cheese. Always fatal, the animals literally waste away. Staff at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are recommending an immediate ban on importing deer from other states.

Major Curtis Brown, FWC: "We don't have it here in Florida, we don't want CWD in Florida."

On one side of the debate are about a hundred hunting preserves. On the other, the National Rifle Association.

Marion Hammer, Unified Sportsmen of Florida (NRA) : "Hunting, you get Chronic Wasting Disease in this state, who's going to want to eat a deer if you don't know whether or not it has Chronic Wasting Disease?"

Fearing the ban, deer farmers imported about 450 head of deer last month. That's as many deer brought into the state in any average year.

There are basically two ways the disease could get to Florida, the migration of a wild deer or the importation of a farm raised deer.

Alabama to the west and Georgia to the north have banned imported deer for more than a decade, that makes it unlikely the disease could show up here via migration.

If the ban is approved, the deer that are already here could stay but no more could be brought in.

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