Stop Spread of Infectious Brain Disease Killing Deer

Target: Lincoln Chafee – United States Senate – Chairman of Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water

Goal: Fund the fight against highly infectious brain disease that is killing off deer populations.

A frightening epidemic is spreading across the United States through its populations of wild and captive deer. Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal and highly infectious brain disease currently effecting 21 U.S. states.  Although it boasts the potential to spread to other species – including humans – the federal government has recently reduced CWD prevention and surveillance in efforts to cut spending.  Tell the United States Senate to allocate the necessary funds for the research and control of Chronic Wasting Disease.

Neither virus nor bacteria, CWD is caused by mutated proteins called prions.  Prions are the culprit behind Mad Cow Disease, and the symptoms of Chronic Wasting Disease are similar.  Victims waste away within months during a process characterized by weight loss, excessive salivation, and abnormal behavior like stumbling, trembling and depression.  With the mule deer, white-tailed deer and Rocky Mountain elk that range across most of North America all being susceptible, the disease is spreading like wildfire.

Perhaps the most unsettling thing about this outbreak is how little we know about it.  Thought to be laterally transmitted (from one animal to another), Chronic Wasting Disease also results in residual environmental contamination.  Infective prions can remain in the soil for at least three years, and every previous effort to clean an infected environment has failed.  This information is even more shocking when the potential repercussions of CWD are applied to other species.  In 2012, CWD was proven to infect cattle, cats, and four types of rodents even as the United States Department of Agriculture was cutting $17 million from programs responsible for controlling the disease.

How can we stand by and witness the rapid progression of Chronic Wasting Disease? If this infection is studied and cured, not only will we end the horrible suffering of countless wild animals, we will crack the code of this new disease and gain the power to stop similar strains as well.  Fight back against the short sighted budget cuts to this vital cause and tell the senate to demand more funding for CWD prevention, control, and research.


Dear Mr. Chafee

Deer have been positively diagnosed with Chronic Wasting Disease in what is now 21 U.S. states.  The virulent spread of this disease continues to present serious health and safety concerns, loss of wildlife, and detriments to national resources.

The last definitive action taken by Congress on this issue was in 2004, and the progression of Chronic Wasting Disease through our country has neither slowed nor stopped.  If left unchecked, this threat could easily overtake the entire cervid population of the North America.  I urge you to heed the warnings of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance and appropriate additional funds to the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA) for the research and control of Chronic Wasting Disease.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Miss Steel via Geograph

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  1. This will cause hunters to think. This is comparable to the dreaded mad cow disease.

  2. Trish Walker says:

    Agreed, JD. This should scare the hell out of anyone who reads this. Did research on vCreutzfeldt-Jakob a decade ago – verrrry frightening stuff. I hope it doesn’t find a way to cross into our veg supply.

    It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature…

    • Trish Walker says:

      ARTICLE QUOTE: “In 2012, CWD was proven to infect cattle, cats, and four types of rodents” …

      Please do not take this as a sign that dogs can not get CWD. Any animal, including humans, can contract a form of this horrible disease. Watch what your cat/dog eats – deer and deer parts.

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