Bovine Tuberculosis - Answers to frequently asked questions

What risk does bovine TB pose to the health of the deer herd?

Bovine TB is a progressive, chronic bacterial disease that affects primarily cattle, but also deer. The disease compromises the immune system and can lead to death from related causes. If left unchecked, the disease would likely spread and become established within the deer population. As a result of this, there would be permanent risk of continuous deer-to-deer or deer-to-livestock transmission of the disease.

Why is it important to take action now?

Right now, there are very small numbers of deer in a localized area that are infected with this disease. We need to remove these deer now to prevent further opportunities for transmission of this disease. Waiting until this fall’s hunting season risks further spread of this disease.

Why not let landowners shoot deer instead of sharp shooters?

USDA Wildlife Services employs teams of trained sharpshooters across the United States who are experienced and skilled in efficiently removing large numbers of deer for wildlife damage and health and safety reasons.

Because of work and other priorities, landowners might have difficulty removing enough deer to effectively reduce deer densities in these critical areas. Sharp shooting teams will be able to work around the clock and have the ability to efficiently remove deer in a short time.

Sharpshooters will take deer of all age and sex classes in critical areas. Studies have shown that bovine TB is more prevalent in adult deer, especially males because of their behavior.

Sharpshooting teams will take deer on public land and will also work with landowners to take deer on private land with the landowner’s permission. Sharpshooters will not enter private property without written permission.

What will happen to deer taken by sharpshooters?

All deer taken by sharp shooters will be tested for bovine TB. Meat from deer with no obvious bovine TB infection will be salvaged and released for human consumption. DNR will provide information and food safety guidelines for proper handling and cooking of venison.

Will sharpshooters enter private land?

Sharpshooters will not enter private property without written permission from the landowner. No exceptions.