What do you get when you have a game ranch, an Amish farmer, and wild deer heads?
It may sound like the setup to a joke, but a game ranch in Michigan might be in hot water because of the situation.
It seems the rancher was behind in his testing, so he asked an Amish farmer named Henry Brenneman for a few wild deer heads. Brenneman processes meat for hunters at his Deerfield Township farm. He says the rancher took some heads from his bone pile.
The story is already bad enough, but it gets worse. Two of the heads the rancher took from the Amish farmer tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
Officials quarantined the ranch in January after the tests came back positive.
When officials from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) learned that some of the deer heads had come from the wild and not the ranch, it added a new level of concern to the story.
Deer around the Lansing area have tested positive for CWD. However, Brenneman maintains that he didn’t butcher deer harvested from there.
Officials are now concerned that CWD may be more of a problem in the state’s deer population.
MDARD is in charge of investigating the ranch, since deer farms are regulated as livestock. The deer farmer faces no charges at this time. Officials haven’t identified him in the incident, and he hasn’t admitted to taking the heads from an outside source.
However, MDARD shut down Brenneman’s processing business because the Amish farmer was operating without a license.
Officials are now hoping to track down where the infected deer came from in order to determine if CWD has spread further than initially thought.