Remaining 177 Deer in Medina County Ranch Euthanized

A lawsuit filed Thursday inflamed the ongoing war of words between captive deer breeders and hunters groups worried about chronic wasting disease spreading from breeding facilities to wild herds.

The suit, filed in Austin, accuses Texas Parks & Wildlife Department officials of overstepping their authority, violating the state’s open meetings law and discriminating against deer breeders when they took emergency measures this summer to curb disease after finding cases of it in a Medina County ranch.

Beside seeking a court order to void the emergency rules, the suit also seeks to resolve the issue of whether captive-bred deer are wild animals that belong to Texas, as the state claims, or the private property of those who raise them.

The discovery of infected whitetails sent state officials scrambling to develop a response plan and exacerbated a rift between deer-breeders and wildlife advocates concerned about the state’s estimated 3.9 million wild deer.

“At best, there is no rational basis for the emergency rules,” the suit says. “At worst, the defendants are simply using the documentation of CWD to target the deer breeding industry for destruction.”

Five whitetail deer have tested positive for CWD since June, four of them at the Medina County ranch.

And one day before the suit was filed, the remaining 177 deer there — in a captive herd whose owner has said numbered 238 when the state response to CWD began — were euthanized so they can be tested, state officials said.