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January 29, 2009

Minnesota's Efforts to Stop Chronic Wasting Disease Not Enough

The HSUS Calls for Phase-Out of Captive Shooting Ranches, Game Farms

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization, today called on the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Board of Animal Health to take further decisive action against the spread of chronic wasting disease following a confirmed infection in a captive elk farm in the state. 

"The Humane Society of the United States urges Minnesota officials to permanently prohibit the import and transport of captive deer and elk and begin to phase-out game farms and captive shooting ranches immediately," said Howard Goldman, Minnesota state senior director for The HSUS. "Chronic wasting disease threatens both wild and captive populations, and regulations are needed to halt a potential wildlife disease catastrophe in the state."  

CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy affecting deer, elk and moose. Like mad cow disease, CWD attacks the nervous system and brain of the infected animal and progresses with symptoms including reduced eating, repetitive walking patterns, possible blindness, head tremors, loss of coordination and death. 

Although the state's quarantine is an important first step in halting the spread of CWD, it does not go far enough. Game farms — through escaped animals, fence-line transmission or environmental contamination — spread CWD to the wild, where it is predicted to cause dramatic declines in wildlife populations. 

A copy of the report Captive Deer and Elk as Vectors of Chronic Wasting Disease is available here.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 10.5 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org. 

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