Ohio Kills 510 Deer for Disease Concerns

The Ohio Department of Agriculture euthanized more than 500 deer in the past month because of concerns over the spread of chronic wasting disease.

The deer were owned by Daniel Yoder, who was arrested in Holmes County in February on two counts of tampering with evidence — a third-degree felony — related to an investigation into how chronic wasting disease came to his property and spread.

Erica Hawkins, state agriculture spokeswoman, said about 270 deer were euthanized last month at Yoder's hunting preserve, but none tested positive for the disease. Hawkins said this is good for the area because it means the site is not contaminated, but it likely means the problem comes from Yoder's deer breeding farm. Both of the locations are near Millersburg.

The initial case of the disease in the state was found at the preserve, but two more cases had since been discovered at the farm which essentially supplies deer to the farm for people to hunt.

Hawkins said 240 deer at the farm were euthanized this week and samples are being pulled for testing.

Chronic wasting disease is among a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, which includes mad cow disease. The diseases are caused by misfolded rogue proteins called prions. The disease is always fatal, but has not yet transferred to livestock or humans.

The state placed a quarantine on the preserve in April 2014, which prohibited deer from entering or leaving the premises. The breeding farm was placed under quarantine last June. Despite that, officials said two deer from the farm were found outside the preserve when they were recently killed by hunters.

Additionally, the state said Yoder "chronically violated" record-keeping requirements by not reporting when he added deer to his captive herds.

Yoder's criminal charges were dropped in April of this year, but Holmes County Prosecutor Steve Knowling said the case is not closed. On Wednesday he said his office is letting an investigation by the Ohio Department of Agriculture take place before reassessing criminal charges.

Hawkins said the test results of the deer from the farm will be part of the state's investigation, but declined to comment further on it.

An attorney representing Yoder did not return a call seeking comment on Wednesday.

The deer in the preserve were shot because they were not in pens, while the deer at the farm were given a euthanizing solution.

SOURCE: Coshocton Tribune