On Monday July 15th 2013 Dr. James Kroll provided the following testimony to the Missouri House of Representatives CWD Committee.
Dr. Kroll represented himself as an unpaid and unbiased expert. However, he has been a long-time asset to the confined cervid industry, and in fact himself owns and operates a cervid breeding facility in Texas.
Kroll's testimony was peppered with the talking points the industry has developed regarding CWD, clearly supporting the industry while casting doubt on the position of professionals in state and federal agencies tasked with managing wildlife diseases.
He made multiple claims that are on the fringes of the scientific community, including the suggestion that CWD has always been here. Or that cervids will evolve to deal with CWD naturally with no long term harm to the herd.
It was learned after the fact that Dr. Kroll had been invited to testify by the Committee Chair, Rep. Sandy Crawford. The Conservation Federation of Missouri subsequently offered to arrange for an unbiased wildlife researcher to testify at one of the remaining hearings of her committee. She refused.
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A full audio recording of this testimony is available here from missourinet.com.
Dr. Kroll: I hope you don't mind but I'm going to talk from my notes here.
Sam's right I did get come here I got here just a little bit ago as a matter of fact.
I'm here today to talk to you about, or I was asked to talk to you about what we know and my perceptions and experiences with CWD. And other aspects that you're going to be dealing with.
I'm not being compensated to be here other than somebody's going to pay the mileage for me to drive 900 miles to be here.
And I realize you got a short frame and I got a long presentation so I'll kinda thin it down a little bit.
Also I've got another paper that they're gonna have to copy for y'all.
Let me give you a little bit about the history of whitetail deer and I won't bore you with that. I can say it very quickly. We've often heard, and it's often seen in textbooks, that at the turn of the 20th century there was somewhere between 300,000 and 500,000 deer in the United States.
To be honest with you I have no idea where that number came from. But we'll take their word for it. I think everybody would agree there weren't many deer at the turn of the 20th Century.
It's been heralded as one of the most successful wildlife recovery efforts in this continent. And that's absolutely true.
However, we now have more deer in the United States than were here when Columbus got here.
We're seeing lots of signs of deer decline, population declines. And a lot of states herds have peaked and they're starting down. We've seen tremendous ecological impacts. And Dr. Jacobson and I, Harry Jacobson, in 1994 in Scotland at the international deer conference gave a talk called "The Whitetail deer the most managed and mismanaged species".
And in 1994 we predicted that these kinds of issues were going to soon be on the forefront.
How did we get there? Well, we got there we always talked about restoring whitetails. No one ever thought about managing them.
At the same time it's the most economically important game animal in this continent.
Hunting is a 1.35 Trillion dollar industry. And about 83% of hunting now is for deer of some kind. Either mule deer, whitetails or elk. So it's big business.
It's also ... there's been a tremendous interest in quality deer management, intensive deer management by private landowners and hunters groups and organizations.
There's management mania now. And it carries with it all the goods and all the bads of it.
I might digress here and say that I'm not here representing any one interest group. Dr. Kroll is a paid consultant to the deer breeding and fenced hunting industry. He also operates a deer breeding facility in eastern Texas. He was invited to testify by the Committee chair (Rep. Sandy Crawford).
The CFM offered to provide an expert researcher to give testimony more in tune with the research community outside the deer breeding industry.
Representative Crawford refused. Quite frankly I kind of have issues with all of them.
But I'm just going to tell it like it is. And people who know me know that I cut straight whether you like it or not. Sometimes it's pretty tough on me.
So we've got this interest in deer management and a big part of it has come from the desire to have better quality bucks. And because the way we got in this trouble was by what we call traditional deer management. And that was my great grandfather if he saw a deer he would shoot it he didn't care whether it had antlers or not.
To restore them we had to get people to a mindset that they shouldn't shoot does. So traditional deer management's pretty well focused on buck harvest.
I've never seen a whitetail buck have a fawn in all my career which is 4 decades now. So what's happened is that over time the population exploded everywhere. And so there are no more great new places to hunt trophy whitetails any more. SO with this decline in quality people are interested in this. So this creates all kinds of conflicts between professional biologists and private managers and a whole bunch of things. That often's not fun.
There are philosophical conflicts between wildlife biologists, between landowners and state agencies, that revolve around the North American wildlife model that revolve around private ownership, the role of the private landowner, and those conflicts I don't think are ever going to be resolved until we have a trend now that professional biologists in state agencies less and less and less of them are hunters. And what I'm seeing is in states where very few of the state biologists are hunters they really don't care about whitetail deer. So they're less likely to fight some of these battles.
That all said let me move to the chase here.
What is CWD. Well I don't need to answer that I think because you've been hearing about it. It's a TSE, a Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy and that was a great definition of it. It's communicable and it turns your brain to Swiss cheese.
Now CWD is not unique to whitetail deer. Many mammals including humans have TSE's or SE's. In every situation the normal infection rate, the normal instance rate is very very low CWD is unique to cervids, which covers all deer species including elk and moose.
Yes, other TSE's have been identified in other species.
But CWD is the only contagious TSE known to spread among wild free ranging animals anywhere in the world.
That is a significant distinction. .
For example, in human beings Creutzfeldt Jakob disease is present worldwide in about 1 to 3 to 5 million individuals. That's a pretty low probability of having that disease.
The other thing is that very rarely are those diseases easily spread from individuals to individuals, so we don't need an eradication program of all the human beings who have Creutzfeldt Jakob disease.
Also a lot of other animal species have them. Everything from hamsters, minks, cats, ungulates, they all have them. But as a disease group they're usually like I said fairly rare.
Now most people came to ... a lot of the problems that you're dealing with right now came to was generated by public paranoia of the occurrence of mad cow disease in the UK. Which we think was begun by feeding animal product feeds to cattle. And subsequently 160 last time I checked 165 people in all of Europe had contracted a variation of that disease. 165.
Hundreds of thousands if not millions of cattle with the disease or carrying the disease non clinical were slaughtered and fed to Europeans over a long period of time.
The one that's probably most common is scrapie, which occurs in sheep. And has been known for a long long time. It's called scrapie because when they're sick they scrape the side of their ... they scrape their hair off.
It was interesting they'd never called it mad... when CWD showed up in deer some irresponsible journalists called it mad cow disease in deer or mad deer disease when they should have called it scrapie in deer.
And that stirred up, that hurt us, we lost a lot of hunters because of that.
I'll talk about human involvement here in just a second.
There are a lot of myths and fantasies about it. The handout you've got is produced by a colleague of mine, Dr. Don Davis, who is a very respected wildlife disease man in the College of Veterinary medicine at Texas A&M University.
It's well known CWD was first reported in a captive herd in Colorado, that belonged to the state of Colorado, not a deer breeder. There's some ambiguity in whether or not the disease started there. There've been all kinds of crazy rumors about cohabitation with sheep, about bringing it in from captured deer out west, we don't know.
But the general thought is that it probably did not arise in that captive pen. That it was probably out there in the Rocky Mountains for some time. These are mule deer we're talking about. So it's probably been around some time like a lot of the other TSE's There is no evidence or research that suggests CWD existed anywhere before 1967.
Deer might be the most intensively researched species in the history of game management. There is no rational support for the notion that CWD existed prior to the late 60's and somehow escaped notice.
It has taken only 40 years for CWD to go from initial infection to over 50% infection rate in Wyoming's "South Converse" mule deer herd. In Wisconsin it only took 13 years for CWD to reach an infection rate over 25% in adult bucks in their core zone. . Human Beings have had Cruetzfeldt Jacobs for perhaps thousands of years.
So we're not sure about that. We do know some deer were moved. There's some dispute about that. I've got some references about deer being moved around that subsequently showed up at another state research pen in Wyoming - Wheatland Wyoming. And then showed up in some private herds of elk. And then out in the wild.
So it's been there for quite a while.
What is a reportable disease. It's listed as a reportable disease. Well there's a lot of definitions. The easiest one is that a reportable disease is one that you got to report by law.
But my definition of one that ought to be reported is first of all that has a significant increase in host mortality. It has the potential to be zoonotic - that is it can be transmitted to other species like humans and livestock. And has a demonstrable economic impact on livestock or recreation.
And those are the criteria that I use in assessing problems with all these.
So what diseases do whitetails get. I've worked in every state and every province from Mexico to Canada and I've seen lots of diseased deer. The first one of course you've been asking a lot of questions about is EHD, blue tongue complex.
Right now the one that roared across the country in the last two or three years is an exotic import, not a native one. And you've heard it comes from, transmitted by being bitten by a gnat and so forth and so on.
I predicted this several years ago. The number of cases that you just discussed is not accurate. It's more significant than that. The milk river valley of Montana lost 90% of it's whitetail herd last year. It is very devastating not only to whitetails but mule deer and pronghorn antelope.
In spite of that, in 3 to 7 years the whitetail deer population will be back in most areas. But we're seeing an increase in frequency of these diseases, presumably by climate change.
Now these diseases have been thought of as being southern diseases. But you might find it interesting that the descriptive the type locality for these diseases was New Jersey and Michigan in 1957 which was during another global warming period that I lived through.
You know, the bible says that Saul has killed his thousands, but David has killed his tens of thousands. Well EHD Blue tongue is David It is absurd to compare EHD with CWD. They are completely different in nearly every way.
EHD can ruin a season or two when it flares up. But it does no long term damage to the herd. Nothing about EHD interferes with full population recovery.
CWD acts nothing like that. It slowly but relentlessly spreads through the herd and the range. Slow but fatal, killing every deer it infects, and no deer is immune.
So no, CWD is not going to ruin a deer season or two in the short term.
But it is a dangerous fantasy to pretend it can't ruin the future of deer hunting in the long term. The deer breeder industry is doing everything possible to confuse legislators and the public on this point.
There is no practical management available for EHD in the wild. CWD, on the other hand, may be at least dramatically slowed if attacked early and agressively where detected. And it appears preventable altogether if the threat of importing the disease can be eliminated. .
And it's part of my ... I had the honor of being appointed as the so-called deer czar or deer trustee of the state of Wisconsin by Governor Walker. And one of the things we looked at was the Wisconsin response to CWD.
One of the questions we asked the state agency was to provide us of the necropsy report all of the mortality data of deer who died of CWD in the CWD eradication zone. And I put quotes around "eradication". That was a very good comment. You're not going to eradicate any of it.
By interim report time we had one that had died from EHD. By final report time we had a necropsy report on over 100 whitetails found dead, and only 14 had tested positive for CWD, and they did not die from CWD Lots of things kill deer. CWD does not change that. All 14 of those CWD positive deer would have later have died of CWD if nothing else had killed them first. CWD follows a predictable gestation in infected deer and is 100% fatal.
Infected deer show no symptoms for at least a year and a half, sometimes a bit longer.
But they all become symptomatic eventually, and die of CWD within a few weeks after that.
Free-ranging deer that die of CWD in the wild may not be detected until it is too late to have the carcass tested. . I'm not saying they weren't going to, but that's all they had.
I'll come back and talk about that here in a second.
So EHD is a significant disease.
Anthrax. I've had some wonderful experiences with anthrax. It's not just a Texas disease. Mississippi, it's other states. It's a fun disease to deal with because humans are going to get it and you're not going to survive if you're not careful. So periodically anthrax roars through areas and kills off deer herds. And they manage to come back.
Folks say CWD is unique - the infectious agents hang around. Well the spores of anthrax hang around. Some of them have been in the ground since the buffalo days. So that's not unusual. Some people say EHD is not a significant disease because you don't transmit from one animal to the other. There are animals out there that are reservoirs for the disease.
Tuberculosis. I have a lot of experience with that. I helped reduce the tuberculosis instance in northern Michigan, northeastern Michigan from about 12% to less than 1% through management. We never tried to eradicate it through management. Tuberculosis is a significant zoonotic disease. Michigan never tried to eradicate just tried to manage. It also can stay in the ground for a while.
Lyme disease. Deer don't die of it, but people do. They also harbor ehrlichiosis which is more dangerous. And rocky mountain spotted fever. And it can be density dependent, so high deer densities, it can be.
So you see there's a host of diseases. We'll thrown in abscesses and pneumonia all kinds of stuff. Fighting. CWD is down way down on the list of mortality agents True, but totally misleading. CWD escalates. No other mortality agent does that. When CWD first arrives in the environment the infection rate is so low it is statistically absent from the list of mortality agents.
But the fuse is lit.
It may take decades, but eventually CWD infection rates expand to the point that deer cannot adequatly compensate for the mortality with production - the population will begin to drop.
In Wyoming's South Converse Mule Deer Herd, which has been under intensive CWD research, the percentage of infection has grown slowly but predictably. It is now over 50%. Populations have crashed. The age class of harvested deer is crashing too.
There is no feel-good story to spin here. .
So let's talk about that. What do we know about the impact of CWD on deer populations.
We know that CWD has been present in deer populations in Colorado and Wyoming for decades. We know that CWD in Wisconsin had gone unnoticed for a long time. We know that CWD effects on mule deer recruitment and population growth studies, studies I have looked at showed lower recruitment, but scientists have concluded that although [CWD] may affect mule deer recruitment these effects seem to be sufficiently small that they can be omitted in estimating the influence of CWD on population growth This statement does not reflect the opinions of researchers outside of the confined deer industry. It is directly contradicted in wildlife agency reports and research papers.
Examples: ". . . the prevalence of CWD in this herd is substantial and could potentially be having adverse impacts on a population-wide scale"
"Our findings provide compelling evidence that prion epidemics can affect mule deer population dynamics locally"
A CWD study in the zone in Wisconsin concluded we found no difference in harvest rates between CWD infected and non-infected deer. Our results showed that the probability of infection increased with age and the adult males were more likely to be infected than adult females.
Brings up a point.
By the time the average whitetail deer ... generation [sic? gestation?] time in whitetail deer is 3 and a half years. By the time an average whitetail deer can become clinical, it's been eaten, or come out of the freezer at least a couple of years ago.
And I don't mean to sound flippant. But it's very.. that's why I never really worried and I went on national television in 2002 and said this eradication effort in Wisconsin is not going to work and when it's all said and done it's going to be less than 2% Was Kroll, the Wisconsin "Deer Czar" napping while this data was being collected? From the Wisconsin DNR's 2014 CWD prevalence and surveillance report:
"Since 2002, chronic wasting disease (CWD) prevalence within our western monitoring area has shown an overall increasing trend in all sex and age classes. During the past 12 years, the trend in prevalence in adult males has risen from 8-10 percent to nearly 25 percent, and in adult females from about 3-4 percent to more than 10 percent." .
It wasn't that I'm a genius or anything, it's just common sense. So they have lots of fawns. As much of 60% of doe fawns can have a fawn. So It's very difficult to hold those populations down.
Since there's no evidence that CWD has had an impact on the population dynamics of whitetails or mule deer or any other cervid. There's no scientific evidence to support it.
As Dr. Davis pointed out although CWD has been reported in 20 states today, might be 21 now I don't know. In which whitetails reside this is somewhat misleading because there are 3500 counties in the united states and it has occurred in 175 of them or 5%.
Is CWD a human health hazard. Let's talk about that. Again I've already mentioned the press and their culpability in costing us hunters out there.
A Colorado study concluded no convincing evidence of CWD transmission to humans. Several other studies with the same result. Studies with primates and transgenic mice.
Do y'all know what transgenic mice is? That's really scary. We put genes in them to make them act like humans.
Found higher primates and transgenic mice had an apparent molecular barrier to the infection. Annual Creutzfeldt Jacobs disease incident rate has not changed since we've been keeping track of it.
As of 2006 161 case of variant Creutzfeldt Jacob in the UK and Europe vs millions of people. I already said that. Thus the inherent ability of these infectious agents of mad cow disease and scrapie to affect humans following equivalent exposure may be finite but similarly very low.
What was the origin of CWD. There is no scientifically credible evidence about the origin of CWD. We don't know. All we know is that it is an infectious agent that is a prion that becomes distorted. We know that manganese miners tend to have more Creutzfeldt Jacobs Disease than non-manganese miners, so heavy metals may be involved we don't know. We know it can appear spontaneously. I've likened it to cancer with lots of different sources.
We do know about genetics. Suffolk sheep are particularly susceptible to Scrapie with 87% of all case attributed to that breed. Sheep herders have pretty well gotten themselves out of those problems by changing breeds, but have also looked at genotypes that indicate susceptibility of sheep to the disease.
Chairman Crawford: Can I stop you for one second I've got somebody that's got a hot question to ask you.
Dr. Kroll: Ooh a hot one, OK.
Rep ?: To inquire.
Chairman Crawford: Proceed
Rep ?: I don't know that the question's too hot, but while we're on that topic and you're going through and talking about from what you're saying there's no conclusive evidence about the origin of CWD. And I know you're from Texas but you know a lot more about the subject than I do here in Missouri, could you tell me when did we get CWD here in Missouri.
Dr. Kroll: When you got it?
Rep ?: When did it make its entrance. Has it always been here? Did it show up in 2003, 6, whatever was reported previously I'm just curious about this.
Dr. Kroll: I can give you my professional opinion. Nobody knows. It's always been out there. Is CWD spreading or is testing spreading? The more we test the more likely we are to find it. This is a favorite talking point of the high fence deer shooting industry. But it doesn't hold water.
The MDC began statewide CWD testing of wild whitetails in 2002. By 2014 over 40,000 wild deer have been tested.
The first of 10 positive test results (so far) on wild deer came in November 2011.
All ten of these wild deer were killed within 2 miles of the fence of a Macon county deer shooting facility from which confined deer tested positive for CWD in early 2011, the very first time CWD had been detected in the state.
Over a dozen years and 40,000 tests, all the positives were within a short hike of a high-fence deer shooting operation that imported deer from out of state.
They don't make coincidences that big. So I don't know. I don't know. That's just my professional opinion that I think it's been there.
Rep ?: I'm curious I mean we get everybody else's opinion but that's... I just wanted some clarification on that before you moved on to the next...
Dr. Kroll: It's only recently come to Texas in mule deer that walked across the border from New Mexico, where there's never been a deer breeder. So it kind of supports this spontaneous strange thing about the disease. Which was consistent with what we know about it in other species.
Chairman Crawford: Does anyone else have a question while we have a break here? OK, go ahead, thanks.
Dr. Kroll: There's some research on genetic resistance in deer and elk which is encouraging. There are some codons [?] I won't go into them 96SS and 96SG that are showing either resistance or causing a delayed response to the disease. So that's very good news that we can test these deer.
A study compared ... in Wisconsin looked at the genetics and came up with the idea that the eradication program may have been a mistake because we were reducing genetic variability and that those authors tend to think, as I do, that the whitetail deer is going to adapt to this.
In order for an animal to adapt to any disease, so-called evolve, you've got to have two things you've got to have a large population and you have to have a high genetic variability. Whitetail deer have both of them. And I fully anticipate genetic response Tne nugget of truth in this misleading but oft repeated notion deserves explanation:
When pockets of enhanced genetic tolerance to CWD occur naturally within a species, that trait may become more prevalent in the population as animals with that trait live and breed longer.
What it doesn't make clear is that we are talking about slower progression of the disease once caught, or delayed onset of symptoms. We are not talking about immunity to CWD. There is no such thing among deer.
In other words, one gene type might become symptomatic within a year and a half of infection, another might last 3 years, surviving to breed a season or two longer.
Unfortunately infected deer of either gene type shed prions into the environment while alive and also when dead. This is not immunity to CWD, it is delayed death by CWD. . If it's even necessary to that disease
It says with sheep it appears to be possible to identify resistance susceptible deer [sheep?] through genetic testing. What about testing, someone asked earlier about testing postmortem versus ante mortem. I've looked at the gold standard as it's called, where we look at the brain stem and the retropharyngeal lymph nodes. The diagnostic sensitivity is 79.6%. As compared to the BSE, the Mad Cow, rapid test ranged 97.9 to 100%. That's why when people get their results back from the laboratory, especially deer breeders, they're frustrated because it doesn't say they don't, the animal did not have it says it was not detected.
Chairman Crawford: One more quick interruption Representative Schieffer has a question
Rep Schieffer: May I inquire madam chair
Chairman Crawford: You may
Rep Schieffer: Dr. Davis...
Dr. Kroll: Kroll
Rep Schieffer: ...is it your contention then that by eradicating the deer population we are slowing down the natural process of selective evolution if you will to have this disease more take care of itself.
Dr. Kroll: With one exception. I think the department here's response is good to when they find some if it's a local population... there's is only been one wildlife disease ever eradicated from a deer herd and that was foot [hoof?] in mouth disease in 1923 in California and it was a very localized situation so yes if you have a very localized situation if you go in and ... they're doing some of this in Illinois ... is have a strategic attack on it, that could be useful. But even so you're not going to eradicate the disease there because of the nature of the infective agent.
Rep Schieffer: But by taking out certain eradicated animals we in fact may be slowing down the ...
Dr. Kroll: Right
Rep Schieffer: ...natural process...
Dr. Kroll: Right
Rep Schieffer: ...of it morphing and taking care of itself.
Dr. Kroll: Yeah. Like we did with TB in Michigan. We reduced the population. We got people involved in management. With less deer, not yarding up, our infection rate went down.
Rep Schieffer: And so we may not need a lot of tax dollars to eradicate this disease. Thank you .
Dr. Kroll: There was a ... uh ... Interesting. I'll talk about that in a second.
What about ante-mortem testing? There is some good information out there that has produced great results. We're talking about a rectal biopsy. And the best results also have been with a rectal biopsy combined with a genetic test. So I think in some of these things that are going into play, I think that the day is coming very soon that deer breeders will be able to test out of it.
I will point this out though. I was somewhat amused by this. There's reticence to adopt a test like this. But yetI'm a vocal critic of elk stocking programs. I don't have anything really against elk. But you realize how many thousand elk have been grabbed up from the Rocky Mountains and brought to states and let go with no testing.
How CWD is spread, you've already heard that, a whole bunch of infection agents.. saliva, urine. The only thing there isn't is in semen. Not in cattle not in sheep has that been shown.
However, all the studies that have been done to date have been done under very controlled situations with what I call Herculean efforts to infect the other animals. Forcing it down their throat for 90 days and doing all this stuff and even so... some of those body fluids and agents don't seem to be as infective as others, so you really got to work hard. So again deer density could be an implication of that.
Um... what about fences? Well, USDA regulations in Appendix 2 say that 8-foot fence is adequate. But they also point out that they did a survey of 150 biologists and because 6 of them felt that deer could jump 8 feet, they said that they're not requiring it, but they'd rather have 10 feet fences.
There have been some good studies done on the efficacy of high fences, especially those in cooperation with electric wires, and shown, remarkable results, one study with elk showed that 24 of 25 elk exposed to electric fences were completely deterred from talking to a deer on the other side of the fence.
I might point out this... and this may appear that I'm coming down on the side of one group or another, but I'm not, I'm just stating the facts. There's absolutely no evidence out there scientific or otherwise that CWD was brought to you by deer breeders. Deer breeders are really the victim of it. Nobody claims deer breeders played a role in the creation of CWD. But it does seem they play a big role in moving it around the continent. Many outbreaks seem to originate in or around confined cervid facilities. Missouri started CWD testing statewide in and outside the fences about 2001. The very first positive was 2010 in a Linn County shooting preserve. The next was 2011 in a Macon county shooting preserve. The next was 2012 in a wild deer 2 miles away from the fence of the Macon County facility. If that was a coincidence it is one that has been repeated in many other outbreaks.
The circumstantial evidence that new CWD outbreaks often follow the commercial trade in live deer is so overwhelming that the conclusion is obvious.
The state veterinarian of Wisconsin, and I have that in writing if you want it, said that of the 8 white tail deer herds, privately owned herds that were depopulated in Wisconsin, 7 of them had illegally brought in wild deer, and the 8th one was a taxidermist who was processing deer in his pens.
So, there is a 2-way street, excuse for saying 2 way street, between a fence and the outside. If I were advising deer breeders I would tell them take every precaution that you can to keep the public deer away from your deer. Because more than likely that's where you're going to get it. One need only take a look at the "Distribution of Chronic Wasting Disease in North America" map produced by the USGS to see the folly of that claim.
So, my conclusion after 10 years of dealing with CWD issues, my experiences in Wisconsin and after my review of the knowledge related to this subject, I feel concerns for devastating impact of CWD on the nation's deer and elk herds needs to be revisited. CWD has not been demonstrated to have a significant impact on deer population dynamics, First of all, this is just false. In the areas with the highest infection rates CWD is clearly impacting deer population dynamics.
But it would be true, albeit misleading, to say that there are very few such areas so far. This is because early in the outbreak CWD is a minor factor in the mortality of the herd. It is much less influential than other factors that determine recrutiment, or other diseases such as EHD.
CWD is slow, but persistent. Unless stopped or checked somehow, CWD will eventually become the dominant source of mortality, leaving a diminished population of mostly young animals that may only live to breed once, or maybe 2 or 3 times at most.
That population model is not likely to support hunting, if there is even anyone left who wants to go out there and put some infected venison in the freezer.
We are not talking about whether it's going to diminish our hunting next season, but whether it is going to slowly destroy hunting over the next few decades.
CWD has not been demonstrated to have a human health concern, CWD has not been demonstrated to affect other species, particularly livestock. And this opinion is not just my own, it's held by many other scientists including Dr. Davis there.
So why is there such a problem?
We go back to philosophical differences. I have nothing against philosophical differences, but I'm a scientist and I have to base decisions on facts.
It's unpleasant to a lot of people that private landowners do intensive management. Whether with a fence or without a fence, whatever. Whether people feed deer or plant something for deer or whatever.
There are intense philosophical differences.... and I don't blame anybody for it. Also, it's very understandable that the wildlife community which I'm a member reacted so dramatically with the apparent appearance of CWD. Because it came on the heels of mad cow disease. And so, the reaction may have been overcharged but the motivations were good ... I'm not questioning anybody's motivations.
And I'm also not questioning people's motivations when I say this, and I might add my motivations are often questioned because I'm not on the right side, I'm even quoted as even one time twelve years ago saying that wildlife management is the last bastion of Communism. I bet y'all have never been misquoted in your life, have you?
But I'll say this... the state legislature of Wisconsin audited the program, the eradication program, when it wasn't working. And they found that at that point in time they had spent 32 million dollars on research, eradication, all of those things with no ... with no... as a matter of fact the deer herd grew. The state, the new state record was killed in the CWD zone. It could have been a new world record if it had just of had the tines in the right places. By now they've spent about 70 million.
Nationwide there has been hundreds of millions of dollars appropriated and spent on CWD research and management and testing. There have been countless careers advanced and resumes built on publications about CWD. It's an interest group. At last, the Docctor cuts to the chase. Translation:
Reseach must not be trusted... no ... wait. Back up...
Reaseach conducted by persons not in the employ of the deer breeding industry must not be trusted.
Yes, that's right. It's all those greedy scientists and wildlife researchers on the public dole who are lying to you, not the industry that is pumping money into lobbyists and PR firms while desperately trying to dodge the regulation clearly needed to protect public wildlife from the risks inherent in their business model.
Not just a few scientists mind you, but the whole of the game agencies and wildlife researchers, US, Canadian, state, federal and provincial, all engaged in a massive conspiracy to mislead the public so as to deprive the deer breeders of their property rights. What is sickening is that some hunters (and many Missouri legislators) actualy swallow that nonsense.
Some of that -- like I said I'm not questioning motivation. -- some of that interest group may be based on legitimate concerns, as I am. Some of it may have others. By this point in his testimony the good doctor must have been getting tired. His mealy mouth stripes were starting to show.
But it's time to start doing something about this disease.. not only that but the issues of white-tailed deer and better management of white-tailed deer nationwide. And that's basically what I have to say today.
Chairman Crawford: Questions? Representative Houghton?
Rep Houghton: To inquire
Chairman Crawford: Proceed
So give me your recommendation as to the best way to manage our public deer herd.
Dr. Kroll: Well, I think that I'll give you the same recommendation I gave, uh, Wisconsin, and they've taken it. I'm all excited about it.
Missouri has a great reputation of working with the public. There's none better, in my opinion.
Working with the public and the private landowners together is important, deer management assistance is important, managing with real local input into what the goals are. Involving those stakeholders when in northern Wisconsin we had one deer show up that tested positive we changed the whole approach, we pulled in all the local people and said what do we do, and we came up with a plan and it didn't blow up like it did before.
So, it's about ... nationwide biologists have quit working with the people. We need boots on the ground and a lot narrower rear ends behind computers. Get out there working with people and getting sound information.
There is not ... we picked on Wisconsin pretty hard because they had very poor data and they are the, I mean that's the land of Leopold. If they didn't have good data about their deer herds, then who does?
And I don't think a single state could of, and they took it very well, by the way, but I don't think a single state in this union could withstand the scrutiny that we put them under.
To put state deer biologists on the stand if you would, and ask them to prove to us that you are managing your deer. Prove to us that you are using the tenants of deer management that you are recommending to the private landowners.
The other thing is just don't set your hair on fire and go running down the street. Let's monitor this disease, yes, and just see what.. how it's playing out. Translation: We should do nothing and let the industry make its money, until CWD has become as firmly entrenched in Missouri as it has in Wisconsin and Colorado and Wyoming.
Then we may consider doing something... but of course by then it will be too late. You can't fight CWD once it is dug in.
We need live animal testing, we need some other things out there that aren't being done.
That's um.. I wandered all over the field answering your question, I don't think I really answered it, but that's all I can say about it.
Chairman Crawford: Representative Schaeffer?
Rep Schaeffer: Permission to inquire madam chair.
Chairman Crawford: Proceed
Rep Schaeffer: Have you been asked by the Department of Conservation here or commission for any of your advice or any of your references that you've shared with us today besides them being present?
Dr. Kroll: No, I have not... I've had ... since my Wisconsin experience I've had several states, mainly legislators, call me and ask me about it and the first thing I say is no.
Rep Schaeffer: You know here in Missouri have a unique, uh, situation, we have a Commission and a tax base that we legislators don't have a lot of control over what the Commission does and to a degree I think that's probably good, and to some degree we sometimes wish we may have a little more control, and I'm speaking from my personal preference. But at the same time, um, I think we have one of the best conservation departments in the whole United States, you would agree with me on that..
Dr. Kroll: Yes, absolutely
Rep. Schaeffer: ..one of the better ones.
Dr. Kroll: Yep
Rep Schaeffer: I would just ask the department of representatives that are here from conservation today to seriously consider your testimony and perhaps invite you for a little more consultation on dealing with this whole disease problem. From what I can hear, read and know of your reputation, you're extremely credible, and I for one enjoyed hearing that we may not have to spend lots of tax dollars to try to eradicate a disease that could possibly take care of itself given enough time. So thank you for your testimony.
Dr. Kroll: You're welcome
===== END. Commentary by Steve Jones follows.
Dr. Kroll made repeated reference to Dr. Don Davis of Texas A&M University. Dr. Davis is an Associate Professor at Texas A&M:
Here is a quote Dr. Davis made at the 4:47 mark in a special CWD episode of "Deer & Wildlife Stories", a hunting show:
"There's several reasons why this CWD became an issue. And the first thing is regulatory animal disease agencies: USDA, Texas Animal Health Commission. Their job is to regulate animal diseases. Well, like any bureaucracy they're always looking for new diseases to regulate because it gets them more money. They also are pretty bad about scaring people with diseases. The world's going to come to an end, you gotta give us more money so we can regulate this disease. And to keep our people busy."
So Dr. Davis, in whom Dr. Kroll would have us invest so much credibility, would himself have us believe that both Texas and federal authorities are purposely misdirecting the public and the industry about CWD in order to attract funding. Not just one misleading report by some rogue scientist mind you, but a sustained effort by both state and federal agencies to lie about the threat posed by CWD.
Like so many things that are logically impossible to disprove, one might levy a version of the same charge against Dr. Davis. Except that rather than serving the public interest, his comments appear instead to support a tiny industry which arguably poses a threat to the entire North American Wildlife management model.
Add that to the list of things that make you go “hmmmm....”
To get a clearer image of where Dr. Kroll and his support system are coming from, here are some instructive links to peruse:
Click here to see Dr. Kroll’s advice to deer buyers which include this suggestion for buying deer at auction: “When you mix alcohol and ego together, you often find bad decisions. So, remain sober and do your homework.”
Also telling is this article from Texas Monthly in 2002