Dr. Kroll: The Sky is Not Falling!

In 2011, Texas experienced its worst drought in 1,000 years; without a doubt the most economically devastating disaster in our history. Economic losses to Texas agriculture were estimated to be in excess of $8 billion. The wild fires (over 31,00) that followed destroyed some 4 million acres of ranch and timber land, 3,000 homes and almost 3,000 structures. The wild fire acreage accounted for 50% of all fires nationally. Timber losses due to drought and fire in East Texas added an additional $1.6 billion in lost wood products, with an estimated economic impact on the region of over $3 billion. In 2015, Texas experienced the worst floods in 200 years, with $27 million in property damage (still accruing) and over 30 lives in Texas and the Mexico border.

In 2012, Chronic Wasting Disease was discovered in a mule deer sample from the Trans Pecos region just south of the New Mexico border; where deer had been infected for a number of years. In July, 2015 a two-year old whitetail buck in a Medina County breeding facility tested positive for the malady. The appearance of CWD in this herd, not only is devastating to the owners, but also to the hunters, landowners, outfitters and providers of goods and services to the deer hunting industry in our state.

What do these events have in common? Whenever disaster strikes, Texans band together and get the problem solved. We do not whine, we do not complain, we do not ask for handouts, and we certainly do not look to government for solutions. We put on our boots and go to work! Every time disaster strikes, we recover and become stronger!

It is no secret for almost two decades, two factions have been at war regarding white-tailed deer management. One side believes deer are an important agricultural commodity that can save rural lands and the rural lifestyle. The other believes strongly that wildlife is held in the public trust and that economic development of these resources is counter to the North American Wildlife Model. The battles have degraded to a gorilla war, where ethics and truth often have been the primary casualties. I have no doubt, when word of the positive buck was reported, there were folks who shouted, "Eureka, we finally have them!" Talk of lawsuits and injunctions already are rampant. it is time to act more like Texans than litigants!

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