Tennessee Launches CWD Herd Certification Program

Friday, April 12, 2013 | 12:05 pm

Voluntary Program aimed at farmed deer, elk and other cervidae

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is launching a voluntary Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Herd Certification Program aimed at preventing the disease in farmed deer, elk and other cervidae in the state.

“Chronic Wasting Disease is a transmissible disease of cervidae that causes weight loss and eventual death of the infected animal,” said assistant state veterinarian Sara Clariday, DVM. “Although the disease has not been diagnosed in Tennessee, we want to work with captive cervidae owners to prevent the introduction of this disease, which could have a severe economic impact on producers in our state.”

The state initiative is part of a national program established last year by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to provide uniform herd certification standards and to support the domestic and international marketability of U.S. cervid herds. Through participation in the voluntary program, captive cervid facilities certified as being free of CWD will be permitted to move animals across state lines. 

Cervids include pure bred or hybrid deer, elk, moose, reindeer, caribou and related species. Sika Deer (Cervus Nippon) are now included in the list of susceptible cervidae for CWD and must achieve certified status before interstate movement. White-tailed deer are not included because it is illegal to keep them in captivity in Tennessee.

Facilities can be certified as disease-free after five years of program enrollment with no evidence of disease, or identification as a trace-back or trace-forward herd in a disease event. 

Captive cervid owners interested in participating are required to obtain a premises identification number from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, provide a complete herd inventory and meet annual inspection requirements. Owners are also required to report the death of any animal 12 months of age or older as well as any escaped animals. 

Premises are required to have suitable handling facilities and structurally sound eight-foot perimeter fences. Animals 12 months of age and older, as well as animals under 12 months of age moved from the premises, are required to have proper identification. 

State animal health officials are currently working with 10 captive cervid facilities operating in the state. Captive cervid owners interested in participating in the program should contact TDA assistant state veterinarian Sara Clariday at 615-837-5120 or email sara.clariday@tn.gov. A complete list of program requirements can be found online at www.tn.gov/agriculture/regulatory/animals.shtml under Orders of the State Veterinarian.