I Hope We Don’t Start Chronically Wasting

I have a quick update on Wednesday’s post. I got the call last night that the deer we butchered tested positive for CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease). The DNR collects brain tissue from deer in the area to test for CWD and track it’s movements and developments. My in-laws have been hunting in that area for years and this is the first time it’s ever been detected. Two out of the three deer they got tested positive. What is CWD? Well in super simplified and not so accurate terms it’s called the “mad cow disease for deer.” For a much better explanation see this site and to see a national map of where the disease has spread click here.

What does this all mean? Unlike mad cow, CWD has never been shown to be able to spread to humans. But because there is so little known about it the DNR recommends not eating the meat. The disease resides in the brain, spinal tissue, lymph nodes, tonsils, eyes, and spleen so there are a number of possible ways butchering could infect the meat. We are reluctantly throwing away all of the venison we worked so long and hard to process. (insert sad face here) When I was taking everything out of the freezer I counted that is roughly 42 pounds of meat! In fact when I got that call I was making a huge batch of venison chili that I had to throw out. Even worse we’ve already eaten some of the tenderloin because it tastes so much better fresh. I joking told FM if he starts losing excessive amounts of weight or having blank facial expressions I was going to take him in to get tested for the human form of the disease.

On a serious note this new threat is very disturbing. It’s upsetting to know that an uncontrollable and 100% fatal disease that is spreading throughout our deer population. It creates holes in their brains making them look like sponges. The first positive test for CWD in our state was not all that long ago in 2002 and it’s been rapidly spreading ever since. Scary stuff!

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2 Responses to “I Hope We Don’t Start Chronically Wasting”


  1. 1 merylr0se December 12, 2011 at 9:45 am

    Oh my gosh that’s terrible for all the deer and all the meat you butchered! I hope they’re able to find a way to keep it from spreading so fast, that sounds awful 😦

    • 2 Robin December 12, 2011 at 10:01 am

      Well one of the big things we can do is go hunting because the deer are over populated right now and have been for a while. They know it can spread from an infected deer to an unaffected deer but they aren’t sure how. Feeding the deer has been banned and deer farms have been heavily regulated (many believe this is how the disease came to our state from deer that were out west where the disease is more rampant). But because of CWD many hunters don’t want to hunt in the possible infected areas since they want to eat the meat. So the population increases. Nothing goes to waste around here. If a trophy hunter doesn’t want the meat he gives it to a friend or donates it to a local food pantry. Venison is one of the main sources of meat in our rural food pantries. Because you get so much meat from just one deer many people will have it processed and donate half of the meat to the food pantry for a discount on the processing fees.

      When CWD was first discovered the DNR wanted to hire sharpshooters to over hunt the area in an effort to wipe out the disease but the public resisted because there was so little known about the disease at the time and there was no proof something like that would work. Plus we love our wildlife! Since then Minnesota and Illinois have had good success with heavily hunting in concentrated areas when the disease is first found.


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This is the story of two twenty something newlyweds who are learning to adjust to life in their first house, a 1973 fixer-upper.
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