SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Texas officials are being accused in a lawsuit of overstepping their authority and discriminating against deer breeders when they took emergency measures this summer to curb the spread of chronic wasting disease in whitetail deer.
The lawsuit, filed in Travis County, says that Texas' roughly 1,300 breeders have been "railroaded" by rules enacted by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Executive Director Carter Smith establishing increased testing requirements for the disease among the estimated 160,000 captive-bred deer in Texas, the San Antonio Express-News (http://bit.ly/1Gq9Uhv ) reported Saturday.
The lawsuit was filed by Ken Bailey and Bradly Peterson, Houston-area deer breeders.
"We feel that captive-bred deer have been unfairly targeted and that this is not about chronic wasting disease, this is about trying to shut down the captive-bred deer industry," said Jennifer Riggs, an attorney for Bailey and Peterson.
Five whitetails have tested positive for CWD since June, when the first such case in Texas was discovered at Texas Mountain Ranch in Medina County.
CWD affects the brains and nervous systems of animals and isn't considered a threat to human health.
Texas is limiting release of captive-raised deer only to properties enclosed by high fencing to protect against spreading the disease.
Agency spokesman Josh Havens didn't respond directly to the lawsuit, but said that "Texas has chosen a path of reasonable and prudent measures" to manage a disease that "has the potential to impact Texas' 700,000 licensed deer hunters, their families and the thousands of people in rural communities across the state who rely on deer hunting for their livelihoods."
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