Texas kills 249 deer amid CWD scare

"This is a task we never take lightly,” the agency said

Texas wildlife officials have killed 249 captive white-tailed deer at a private ranch to control the state’s largest known outbreak of chronic wasting disease.

“This is a task we never take lightly and that is always a last resort, but that has proven the most prudent and standard practice for managing prion diseases in wildlife,” the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department told USA TODAY in a statement.

CWD is a highly transmissible disease caused by misfolded prions that is always fatal to deer and other cervids.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department officials had been battling for years with the RW Trophy Ranch in Terrell, about 33 miles east of Dallas, to control the outbreak.

The ranch has been fighting state orders to cull affected white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) after the first positive test results in 2021. A lawsuit made its way to the state Supreme Court, which backed TPWD.

Officials said nearly 90% of samples collected at the ranch this year tested positive or suspect positive for CWD. Another 12 deer tested positive near or associated with the ranch.

Read more from USA Today.

Header Image: Chronic wasting disease is fatal to white-tailed deer. Credit: Craig McIntyre via iNaturalist