SEYMOUR, Ind. (AP) — Indiana wildlife officials are asking deer hunters in
four counties to kill any deer with a yellow tag in its ear in an effort to
prevent the spread of a disease that has ravaged deer populations in other
The deer being targeted are among 20 that escaped this spring from a Jackson
County farm where trophy bucks with huge antlers are bred and sold to
private hunting preserves. Seven of the deer are unaccounted for, The
Indianapolis Star reported.
Department of Natural Resources officials say they are concerned about
chronic wasting disease, which has caused havoc in several states, including
Wisconsin. The disease hasn’t yet shown up in Indiana, but it poses a threat
to the state’s deer population, which numbers 500,000 to 1 million animals.
A farm in Pennsylvania, where chronic wasting disease was detected, has sold
10 animals to farms in Indiana over the past three years. DNR spokesman Phil
Bloom said two were sold to farms in Noble and Whitley counties; the rest
went to two facilities in Jackson County, one of which is the site of the
Licensed hunters in Jackson, Bartholomew, Jennings and Scott counties are
urged to kill the tagged deer and immediately notify the state, which will
get the carcass and test it for the disease. Any motorist who hits a tagged
deer is asked to do the same.
Douglas Metcalf, chief of staff for the state Board of Animal Health, said
each of the four farms that acquired the Pennsylvania animals is under
quarantine, and the animals are being tested for the disease.
Bloom said the case represents a “Pandora’s box” created by interstate
trafficking in wildlife and says it could have wide-ranging consequences to
Indiana’s game-farming industry, which brings in $50 million a year.
Rick D. Miller, owner of the 2.5 Karat Game Ranch in Bartholomew County, has
a lot to lose if the disease spreads. Miller keeps between two dozen and 60
elk and white-tail deer on his farm. He collects deer urine to sell to
hunters, who use it as a deer attractant. Big “shooter” bucks can be sold to
captive hunt facilities for $1,500 to $2,500, and breeding stock can sell
for $1,000 to $250,000.
He said he is outraged by the situation and noted that the farm where the
deer escaped isn’t one of the 385 Indiana deer farms that voluntarily allow
officials to test their herds for the disease. “We don’t want these crazy
things to happen,” said Miller, a former president of the Indiana Deer and
Elk Farmers’ Association.
Anyone who kills a tagged deer is urged to immediately call (812) 837-9536.
Bloom said of particular interest are any deer with a yellow ear tag and two
numbers on it, or any deer with a tag bearing the prefix “IN 764” followed
by another four numbers.
Hunters who shoot one of the deer will be issued a new license at no cost.