Possibility of Wildlife-to-Human Crossover Heightens Concern About Chronic Wasting Disease

By Jim Robbins, a journalist based in Montana. Cross posted from KFF Health News.

Each fall, millions of hunters across North America make their way into forests and grasslands to kill deer. Over the winter, people chow down on the venison steaks, sausage, and burgers made from the animals.

These hunters, however, are not just on the front lines of an American tradition. Infectious disease researchers say they are also on the front lines of what could be a serious threat to public health: chronic wasting disease.

The neurological disease, which is contagious, rapidly spreading, and always fatal, is caused by misfolded proteins called prions. It currently is known to infect only members of the cervid family — elk, deer, reindeer, caribou, and moose.

Animal disease scientists are alarmed about the rapid spread of CWD in deer. Recent research shows that the barrier to a spillover into humans is less formidable than previously believed and that the prions causing the disease may be evolving to become more able to infect humans.

A response to the threat is ramping up. In 2023, a coalition of researchers began “working on a major initiative, bringing together 68 different global experts on various aspects of CWD to really look at what are the challenges ahead should we see a spillover into humans and food production,” said Michael Osterholm, an expert in infectious disease at the University of Minnesota and a leading authority on CWD.

“The bottom-line message is we are quite unprepared,” Osterholm said. “If we saw a spillover right now, we would be in free fall. There are no contingency plans for what to do or how to follow up.”

The team of experts is planning for a potential outbreak, focusing on public health surveillance, lab capacity, prion disease diagnostics, surveillance of livestock and wildlife, risk communication, and education and outreach.

Despite the concern, tens of thousands of infected animals have been eaten by people in recent years, yet there have been no known human cases of the disease.

Many hunters have wrestled with how seriously to take the threat of CWD. “The predominant opinion I encounter is that no human being has gotten this disease,” said Steve Rinella, a writer and the founder of MeatEater, a media and lifestyle company focused on hunting and cooking wild game.

They think, “I am not going to worry about it because it hasn’t jumped the species barrier,” Rinella said. “That would change dramatically if a hunter got CWD.”

Other prion diseases, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, have affected humans. Mad cow claimed the lives of more than 200 people, mostly in the United Kingdom and France. Some experts believe Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s also may be caused by prions.

First discovered in Colorado in captive deer in 1967, CWD has since spread widely. It has been found in animals in at least 32 states, four Canadian provinces, and four other foreign countries. It was recently found for the first time in Yellowstone National Park.

Prions behave very differently than viruses and bacteria and are virtually impossible to eradicate. Matthew Dunfee, director of the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, said experts call it a “disease from outer space.”

Symptoms are gruesome. The brain deteriorates to a spongy consistency. Sometimes nicknamed “zombie deer disease,” the condition makes infected animals stumble, drool, and stare blankly before they die. There is no treatment or vaccine. And it is extremely difficult to eradicate, whether with disinfectants or with high heat — it even survives autoclaving, or medical sterilization.

Cooking doesn’t kill prions, said Osterholm. Unfortunately, he said, “cooking concentrates the prions. It makes it even more likely” people will consume them, he said.

Though CWD is not known to have passed to humans or domestic animals, experts are very concerned about both possibilities, which Osterholm’s group just received more than $1.5 million in funding to study. CWD can infect more parts of an animal’s body than other prion diseases like mad cow, which could make it more likely to spread to people who eat venison — if it can jump to humans.

Researchers estimate that between 7,000 and 15,000 infected animals are unknowingly consumed by hunter families annually, a number that increases every year as the disease spreads across the continent. While testing of wild game for CWD is available, it’s cumbersome and the tests are not widely used in many places.

A major problem with determining whether CWD has affected humans is that it has a long latency. People who consume prions may not contract the resulting disease until many years later — so, if someone fell sick, there might not be an apparent connection to having eaten deer.

Prions are extremely persistent in the environment. They can remain in the ground for many years and even be taken up by plants.

Because the most likely route for spillover is through people who eat venison, quick testing of deer and other cervid carcasses is where prevention is focused. Right now, a hunter may drive a deer to a check station and have a lymph node sample sent to a lab. It can be a week or more before results come in, so most hunters skip it.

Montana, for example, is famous for its deer hunting. CWD was first detected in the wild there in 2017 and now has spread across much of the state. Despite warnings and free testing, Montana wildlife officials have not seen much concern among hunters. “We have not seen a decrease in deer hunting because of this,” said Brian Wakeling, game management bureau chief for the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. In 2022 Montana hunters killed nearly 88,000 deer. Just 5,941 samples were taken, and 253 of those tested positive.

Experts believe a rapid test would greatly increase the number of animals tested and help prevent spillover.

Because of the importance of deer to Indigenous people, several tribal nations in Minnesota are working with experts at the University of Minnesota to come up with ways to monitor and manage the disease. “The threat and potential for the spread of CWD on any of our three reservations has the ability to negatively impact Ojibwe culture and traditions of deer hunting providing venison for our membership,” said Doug McArthur, a tribal biologist for the White Earth Nation, in a statement announcing the program. (The other groups referenced are the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and Red Lake Band of Chippewa.) “Tribes must be ready with a plan to manage and mitigate the effects of CWD … to ensure that the time-honored and culturally significant practice of harvesting deer is maintained for future generations.”

Peter Larsen is an assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota and co-director of the Minnesota Center for Prion Research and Outreach. The center was formed to study numerous aspects of prions as part of the push to get ahead of possible spillover. “Our mission is to learn everything we can about not just CWD but other prionlike diseases, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease,” he said. “We are studying the biology and ecology” of the misfolded protein, he said. “How do prions move within the environment? How can we help mitigate risk and improve animal health and welfare?”

Part of that mission is new technology to make testing faster and easier. Researchers have developed a way for hunters to do their own testing, though it can take weeks for results. There’s hope for, within the next two years, a test that will reduce the wait time to three to four hours.

“With all the doom and gloom around CWD, we have real solutions that can help us fight this disease in new ways,” said Larsen. “There’s some optimism.”

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  1. Amfortas the Hippie

    i worry about this a lot.
    we eat lots of deer meat around here…and the local game warden(his son and my son are buddies) says nothing to worry about.
    at least he knows what i’m asking about, i suppose.

    Mad Deer first appeared at Ft Collins colorado…on the base, which was a biowarfare testing ground.
    one of the diseases they were testing back then was scrapie…which is the sheep prion disease.
    just a coincidence, i’m sure.

    1. i just don't like the gravy


    2. Yves Smith

      Mad cow disease came about in the UK via grinding up unwanted parts of sheep and adding it to cow food, how I do not exactly know but it was done on a large scale. The unwanted parts critically included brain and central nervous system tissue. Those appeared to be the big perps in the species jump.

      So I would avoid brain and any sausage unless you knew how it was made. Venison sausage is so lean you have to add a lot of pork anyhow. But make sure you made the sausage or someone you trust did, and in includes only organs like the liver and odd muscle meat, and no brain or spinal tissue.

      1. Arkady Bogdanov

        Yes, I have read, several times over the years, that all of these spongiform encephalitis type diseases got their start via cannibalistic activities mainly among animals that are normally herbivores or omnivores. I believe that it arose in humans who chose cannibalism, and among livestock who were forced into cannibalism via feed companies pelletizing protein and minerals that would otherwise be seen as waste material from slaughterhouses. Now of course, there are some versions, such as the cow and sheep varieties, that have developed the ability to move to other species. Scary stuff.

      2. Eric Anderson

        Continuing this line of thought, we neatly arrive at the conclusion that the fuse for the zombie apocalypse will be lit by consumption of Soylent green.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        may have been Carson…long, long time since i delved into this.
        and since google sucks, now, i’m going from memory.
        this research was during the mid-fifties, if memory serves.
        captive elk/deer herd that escaped the base preserve…initially CWD spread nearby…but then the (lightly regulated)deer industry happened,lol…and sent infected animals all over the place.

        and yes…i avoid brain and spinal tissue as a matter of course.
        and i’m super careful with the Backstrap, as it lies right along either side of the spine.
        now, with our goats and sheeps, our favorite cut is “frenched rib chops”….where one cuts between the ribs, and through th “chine”===eg Spine–and scootches the rib meat down the rib to make “cops” that have a long “handle”.
        but, as far as i know, the sheep industry has a decent handle on scrapie.
        havent seen anything about that domestically in forever.
        when we sell sheep, i fill out a form thats pretty involved.
        any of mine that turned up with anything could easily be tracked back to me.

          1. Ana

            Much of the bioweapons research is hidden in the federal Department of Agriculture not the CDC and done by DVM/ biology or genetics double doctorates because of the various restrictions on human bioweapons research.

            I recommend the book Lab 257 available on Amazon and many booksellers. I also have a friend who worked at the lab. The book is accurate.
            Ana in Sacramento

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Its pretty clear that consuming brain/spinal tissue of any animal is just a very bad idea – prions seem to be immune to processing.

      Unfortunately, modern food processing treats all organic material as potential product for use, either in the human food chain or for animals – the fact that nobody in the industry thought (for example) that using brain material from sheep as a cheap form of protein enhancement for cattle food was a bad idea, says everything you need to know about that industry. And modern processing converts all leftover parts of animals into a slurry, so you don’t really know where it comes from.

      This is yet another good reason to focus your diet on food you cook and prepare yourself – even the most innocuous processed foods can have some pretty unsettling origins.

      1. Dandyandy

        “cheap form of protein enhancement..”

        Cheap being the operative word. I forgot his name but there was this MP who fed his daughter a burger before cameras, to show how it’s safe. His DAUGHTER FFS.

          1. Dandyandy

            It was the wrong type of heat:)

            Like the wrong type of leaves or snow we get on our rail tracks. Sorry, I’ll go get my coat now.

  2. jackiebass63

    I what causes the disease is capable of changing then it is very possible that eventually it could effect humans. I suspect it is only a matter of time.

  3. Keith in Modesto

    So, the currently, the only way someone could potentially become infected with CWD is by eating an infected deer or other cervid, if the prions that cause CWD become able to cross the species barrier. When that happens, will the disease be able to spread human to human and what would be the method of transmission? I skimmed through the article but did not see those questions addressed. CWD is spreading among wild deer, apparently, but the article doesn’t state what the method of transmission is in the wild deer populations. Deer are not cannibals, are they? Can we assume that CWD spreads among deer by some method other than eating infected venison? And if it does spread by some other means, then if it were to jump to humans, it might spread by that same method in our population? That must be addressed in the literature somewhere and I’d like to hear what at least the speculation is.

    1. Lee

      “Scientists believe CWD prions likely spread between animals through body fluids like feces, saliva, blood, or urine, either through direct contact or indirectly through environmental contamination of soil, food, or water. Once introduced into an area, the CWD protein is contagious within deer and elk populations and can spread quickly. Experts believe CWD prions can remain in the environment for a long time, so other animals can contract CWD from the environment even after an infected deer or elk has died.” Virginia Department of Health

      “The result is that prions, although devoid of genetic material, behave similarly to viruses and other pathogens, in that they can mutate and undergo evolutionary selection,” Weissmann said. “They do it by changing their fold, while viruses incur changes in their nucleic acid sequence.” Science Daily

      So these prions can be all over the place and are mutagenic. Never forget it’s a jungle out therehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBdF3E2NVI8.

      1. Keith in Modesto

        Sorry for not getting back to this sooner, I’ve been away from my computer all day. This is good information; thanks for sharing it.

        This brings to mind the following hypothetical scenario: a person infected with CWD (CWD having crossed the species barrier) uses a public restroom to relieve themselves. They flush the toilet and a plume of aerosolized fecal particles is forcefully ejected into the air. Then anyone else entering into that public restroom is exposed to potentially prion-containing fecal particles simply by breathing. Is that plausible?

    2. petal

      I attended a talk pre-covid by a guy studying it, and he said it can be transmitted through urine and waste, and in the ground. The deer could get it by sniffing infected urine, etc. I wish I could find the guy’s name. Ah here it is: “”Zombie Stories: Chronic Wasting Disease of Cervids (with notes on cats and viruses)” by Edward Hoover(Colorado State). It was in 2017. It was scary, but one of the most informative talks I’ve been to. Looks like he passed away in 2023. Nuts. Anyway, worth reading his papers.

      Did my senior talk about 3 cases that appeared in a group of guys that hunted together in Wisconsin. Can no longer find the article. Was a long time ago now. Back then I wanted to work on prions, but knowing what I know now I wouldn’t go near them. Too many things could happen. They are terrifying.

    3. Al

      From my understanding mad cow disease spread from feed made with infected brain tissue and bone meal. Deer aren’t cannibals, but they have been know to chew on bones to obtain calcium. So that might be a possible way of transmission?

      1. Susan the other

        Iirc, 20 years ago when mad cow broke out in the UK someone gave the extra warning not to use bone powder on their roses. Or to wear a mask, gloves and glasses. Raising the question, how far has contamination already spread in our food supply generally, not just venison.

  4. jefemt

    Many hunters suffer from ‘horn fever’, the bizarre moment that antlers make the hunter get a bit lusty and greedy for a non-edible rack. Many states and species hunting seasons allow antlered-only quarry.
    The trophy, the headgear, is attached to the most likely pathway and culprit of CWD transfer, or certainly the most concentrated zone- the brain and/or spinal column.
    Ironically, the antlered males, the trophies, cannot be set aside for all posterity without some close knife-work around the brain and spine. Passive ungulate retribution ?

    Thick protective gloves, no open wounds, and very careful attention…
    I worked for a Veterinarian clinic for a while- they had me help prepare a biopsy for a Pomeranian that had gone aggressive / mad and had to be put down. The Vets were at lunch, came back to see me with hacksaw opening the skull, no gloves…
    “Where are your Gloves!!!??” Gloves? No one mentioned it or instructed me.
    Badges? Badges??!! We don’ need no stinking Gloves!
    The look of abject concern bordering on fear, and their careful look at my hands for open wounds or sores. Ooopsie! Mind, make a note- disease spreads in many ways, don’t be too dumb an ass…

    We live near a creek, and parallel ditch and canal system, which is a wonderful urban corridor that connects to the divide between the Yellowstone and Gallatin river divide, all the way south to the Park. We get deer, occasional bear, moose, and other critters passing though, eating the yard, and leaving their waste. Vectors.

    I am surprised that during Covids First Big Wave (Cowabunga!) that wasn’t the most popular name for newborns: Vector, and Vectoria.

    Crowded planet— read, “The Coming Plague”, by Laurie Garrett, if you have not yet! Something will thin us out.

    1. Paris

      Thought the plague would be Covid, what a disappointment. It barely moved the needle. Mother Nature owes us big time, no big plague since 1918.

    2. Lee

      Our five senses have a very limited range of perception. We naturally focus our attention on what is immediately perceptible, such as megavertebrates upon which we may dine or which might dine upon us. Lo and behold, the humbling truth is that we live in a world dependent upon and dominated by a bunch of invisible little phkrs (my term of endearment for microbes) that both support us in life and may also bring it to an end.

    3. Ann

      Everyone should read The Coming Plague, regardless. Published in 1994, it is more relevant today than it was then. It will scare the pants off you. I read it once a year. I also read Lord of the Rings, 12 Pillars of Wisdom, and Dune once a year, too, so ymmv.

  5. TomDority

    I had always thought – going back to the late 80s’ early 90’s that Mad Cow and CWD were just the slang names for the prion induced spongiform encephalopathy that in humans was called Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD), also known as subacute spongiform encephalopathy or neurocognitive disorder due to prion disease. So I guess the prion identification has shown speciation where CWD is a different Prion than CJD? or, that the mechanism or vector for transmission has not been identified as being across species at this time?

    1. Susan the other

      So this begins to look like more gain of function research. You would logically think that the biowarfare wizards would simultaneously do gain of function and interference/kill the function altogether. The antidote grows next to the poison in the laboratory too, I’d guess.

  6. Furiouscalves

    In crow wing county in MN (and several other counties in the state) cwd testing is mandatory for the most part (portions of season are voluntary). It is illegal to transport whole deer from a cwd positive areas without a negative test result. (Though quartering and leaving the head and spinal column behind and disposed at dnr or county landfill is possible).

    If anyone would like to see the difference in dnr management, just look at Wisconsin vs Minnesota. Wisconsin hired a biologist that was associated with the captive deer/ high fence/ breeding for trophy hunting industry to recommend mitigation and management of cwd.

    Well, since it is spread from saliva and close proximity of animals, the feeders in the high fence farms are a major contributor to spread.
    Especially with the long persistence of the prions on things. The deer breeders and the biologist from Texas recommended doing nothing in Wisconsin, essentially to preserve the business of breeding and selling these deer. Knowing that regulation of these farms and breeders was likely and would be negative for business. Huge areas of Wisconsin now have established cwd.

    The way that cwd was brought to my area was the transport of a cwd infected captive bred deer from a southern MN breeder (who got his deer from out of state) to a private breeder near my home. Soon the breeder near me had deer die. He decided to place a carcass on public land near him and that is all it took to change this area to a “cwd zone.” The MN DNR has had intensive harvest in these areas to lower the density so that there is less cohabitation and shared food sources hoping to slow spread. Sadly, I noticed there are two new cwd zones in the state near Bemidji and Grand Rapids this year.

    If there is species cross over it seems most likely to happen in Wisconsin. I just can’t help but imagine the years old prions on the butcher shops surfaces across the state!

    I think the article should look more into the captive deer breeding aspect of cwd spread. Also the MN DNR would be good to talk with as well as they seem to get it. Osterholm is a huge resource for the state as well.

    As for Steve Rinella, his quote is off the mark, he’s too busy hawking product. Most sportsman worry about cwd, and it’s not just fear of human crossover, it’s the diminishment in hunting resources that result. Meaning fewer opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. (He’s also too busy interviewing Werner Herzog, while being so self absorbed that he talked 4 times as much as him!)

    1. MT_Wild

      There are lot’s of “hunter perception” type studies that have been done on hunter attitude and CWD.

      Rinellas comments are on the mark. The majority of hunters do not seem to care much….yet.

      I am not among them, and when it gets too common in my part of MT we’ll stop harvesting wild game.

  7. Dandyandy

    Slightly lateral OT, but I know this person who once ate a lot of duck pate, bought from a roadside farmer’s stall, then contracted a severe campolybacter infection, this then triggered a real bad case of ulcerative colitis which then went destroy the colon and the old colon had to be taken out. Talk about a chain reaction.

  8. MT_Wild

    The part that freaks me out the most and that I’ve been least able to understand is that the prions are taken up by plants.

    I’ve never seen any information akin to a challenge study where apparently healthy cervids have been fed plants that have taken up the prions and then subsequently contacted CWD.

    But given how cervids congregate in alfalfa fields and other irrigated agriculture, It’s scary to think that that alfalfa is then bailed up and shipped to non CWD areas with intact prions that can infect herds in those areas.

    1. Arkady Bogdanov

      This is new to me. I will be very curious to see how the ag community reacts to this, once it becomes more well known. A good portion of the livestock community are already very picky about feed, although another good chunk simply don’t care. I have a feeling this will affect things.

    2. NotThePilot

      Yeah, it’s scary stuff. I don’t know all the details and I’m not a biologist, but I think the idea is simply that as individual protein molecules, they’re really tiny.

      And they’re also not merely misfolded, but in such a way that they’re very stable thermodynamically. IIUC that’s where all the nightmare fuel comes from: very hard to destroy, long-lived in the environment, and a catalyst for similar proteins to misfold on contact. So in some ways, they’re less like viruses than trace minerals with viral qualities.

      Could be wrong, but the one small positive is that animal immune systems do have ways of handling an occasional bad protein. So thankfully there’s still a bit of “the poison is in the dose” at play, which may be why vCJD / Mad Cow in the UK didn’t turn into a Black Death level event.

  9. chuck roast

    I may have told this story before, but it bears a repeat. And I’m relating it only because the fellow who told it to me has passed away.

    Back when I worked for the Feds doing NEPA I had a supervisor who was a NEPA expert…in the most respectable iteration of that word. During the ’90’s he was doing environmental work for an agency that shall go un-named. Canadians in the west were shipping old horses to the US that were destined for food factories. A video surfaced that showed horses stumbling and falling up the transport chute. There was evidence that these horses were suffering from CWD.

    All hell broke loose in the media, and this fellow’s agency was tasked with doing environmental document on this importation scheme. Instead of doing a complex Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with its presumption that ‘negative impacts’ could probably be found, this fellow was told that over the weekend he was to produce a much more limited Environmental Assessment (EA) with its presumption that there were ‘no negative impacts’ from the scheme.

    Monday morning he walked into his agency with an EA and a Finding Of No Significant Impact (FONSI) associated with the import scheme. One hand washes the other. When he told me this story I knew he was carrying a heavy burden. Maybe it broke his heart.

  10. Amfortas the Hippie

    i also remember reading, some years ago, about scientists at Woods Hole discovering a prion disease in trout…or some fish,lol… in some river on the eastern seaboard.
    they were hypothesising some connection to pollution, but it was early days, and they were getting flack from on high already.
    there are tribes in New Guinnea who practice cannibalism ritually…both to honor grandma by eating her…as well as to take the essence of their defeated enemies by eating them.
    they get yet another prion disease…Kiru, i think.
    same symptomology, etc.
    i remember reading about that in NatGeo…one of the issues/copies i inherited from my grandad…maybe from the 70’s.
    didnt know at the time about prions as a vector.
    Scrapie is the original prion disease…wreaked havoc on english sheep magnates as far back as the 16-1700’s, IIRC.
    nobody knew the causative agent, of course…witches, perhaps.
    nevertheless, they figgered out pretty quickly how to limit its spread and get things under reasonable control.
    many of those mechanisms are still in use, today…and art part and parcel to the tracking regime i navigate when i sell a few sheep.
    prions are scary as hell, to me….not “alive”…but transmissible like a virus.
    and i have yet to see a good explanation for how they arose…alien monsters,lol.

    1. Lee

      “i have yet to see a good explanation for how they arose”

      Given the amount of time the universe has on its hands, every possible combination of elements, molecules, compounds and so on will manifest ad infinitum. But your question as to this specific instance would indeed be interesting to know. Maybe it could tell us something about the initial formation of life from inorganic materials.

    1. Susan the other

      Interesting. I just saw Natto in the grocery store and wondered what it was. Right next to the Kim Chi which I have yet to try.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Natto is that rarity – a wonderfood that is increasingly confirmed as such by science. Most Japanese swear by it. Unfortunately, its a bit of an acquired taste – the Japanese usually take it with mustard and vinegar as a snack (don’t put it into miso soup as some do as the hot water kills the bacillus).

        I add a spoon of it to my morning smoothie. It costs a lot in health food stores but most Asian shops will have it quite cheap in the frozen food section, you find it in little plastic boxes. Its relatively easy to make yourself, you’ll find tutorials in YouTube (similarly with kimchi and kefir – most of those foods are simple and much easier to make yourself). With kimchi, home made has the advantage that you can adjust the flavour for your taste – most Korean kimchi is a little too intensely pickle-y for the western palate, its possible to make a much milder version. Its delicious in an omelette. Kefir – fermented milk – is also very good in smoothies.

        The evidence I’ve seen is that the major health benefits from live foods come from taking ‘little and often’, rather than eating large amounts in one go.

  11. CW

    As a former facility member at Colorado State University, I have to attempt to clarify. This is not a military base. There was no bio weapons research. CWD inadvertently got transferred, somehow, from sheep to elk. Sheep were being kept in a fenced area, which was later used for elk. Somehow these elk got CWD. The mechanism is not know but lambing had occurred in the field; could have facilitated transfer to grazing elk. The elk were sent to farms around the US without knowing they carried CWD. Subsequently mule deer were discovered with CWD. Then squirrels, moose. And the transfer continues.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      i love the NC commentariat,lol.
      again, i’m going from memory from some things i read maybe 20+ years ago…when i first learned of CWD….and engaged in a research frenzy, back when the web was still pretty wide open….as in scientific journals, etc. ie: pretty sure it wasnt one of those conspiracy sites that were all over the place back then, yammering about morgellons and air sylphs(!).(all that research frenzy is on one of the hard drives in my library, that i have no idea how to access any more)
      i’m certain a military base was implicated…but the biowar stuff was implied(strongly), and not really proven…but it made sense to me, then and now, given what our gov has got up to over the last 80 or so years.
      thanks for chiming in, CW.

  12. kramer

    In the early nineties I worked at a cattle feedlot hospital. We had cows we called “brainers”. They would not focus on anything and just stood around ignoring everything. If I did get their attention, they would usually charge at me when any other cow would run away. They always died not long after reaching this condition. One of the feed ingredients was “protein” bought from an outside supplier.

  13. XXYY

    I freely admit that I am not a hunter, or a meat eater for that matter, so take my comments with that in mind.

    But it seems to me that the easiest way to clamp down on CWD in humans is to stop eating deer meat. This seems like a microscopic price to pay to prevent a 100% fatal disease from spreading into the human population. Reading the comments here makes it look like hunting and eating deer is somehow necessary for human survival. But it’s just a form of entertainment participated in by a small fraction of the population.

    I had a similar reaction when stories came out about the chronic brain injuries caused by football. Why are we still playing football? Or at the very least, why not play a modified form of the game that eliminates brain damage? Another very small price to pay, but apparently it’s an unthinkable thought.

    The human species is doomed if it cannot alter Its behavior even slightly to ensure the species’ survival. However, that appears to be where we are at.

Comments are closed.