Thursday, July 25, 2013


The effect of government overreach can, at times, be hidden in the form of diminished opportunity or higher prices.  In the case of the deer-breeding industry, the effects are much more recognizable and in some cases, people and their families are left completely devastated, often with no recourse. Case in point:
Tom and Rhonda Brakke are your typical American farmers.  It has often been said that happiness is finding something you love – then figuring out a way to do it for a living. Tom and Rhonda did just that and were on their way to creating a business around one of their favorite hobbies: deer hunting.  The Brakkes acquired some land and began to breed and raise deer.  Upon maturation, the Brakkes would release the deer on a large preserve in order to allow hunters to enjoy the sport in a controlled and private environment.
Their small venture was a great success as they worked hard and followed their pursuit of happiness. Then – as often happens whenever achievement in the private sector develops – the government showed up to help:
In 2012, inspired by a Humane Society of the United States scare campaign, the USDA adopted a new set of rules to address Chronic Wasting Disease, a rare ailment that affects deer and other cervids. This uncommon disorder is not communicable to humans or other animals and displays few symptoms until the death of the deer many years after infection.  In other words, CWD is not a threat at all, but rather, the Restless Leg Syndrome of the deer world, a contrived crisis designed by activists to make captive breeding and hunting preserves nearly impossible to operate.
The same month that the USDA released their new CWD rule, the Brakkes were informed that one of the deer in their herd of nearly 700 had tested positive for CWD.  The government offered no evidence that their test was not a false positive, nor did they allow for any additional tests by a third party.  The Brakkes were forced to take the government at their word.  The Center for Disease Control estimates the rate of CWD infection among deer nationally to be at about 2%, other sources say 1% or less.  Still, in accordance with the new USDA guidelines, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources ordered the
Brakkes to eradicate 200 deer on their hunting ranch, despite their having an infection rate of only 1/7th of a percent.  They were then ordered to erect an electric fence around all of their property, test all their remaining animals, and dig up and rebury the top soil on several parts of their land. In addition, under the direction of the USDA, the State of Iowa quarantined and required continued testing of the remaining 500 deer in their herd.  The quarantine is in effect until 2018, and if they find another positive, the clock will reset for another five-year quarantine. In other words, game over.
Don’t worry, the Brakkes are still required to spend roughly $3,000 weekly to feed the remaining 500 deer on their property without any means of profiting from the livestock. They have spent a small fortune in a futile attempt to comply with the new USDA regulations, all while the government has put them out of business. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
The truth is that this has nothing to do with the Brakkes, their small business, their hard-earned money, or even the health of deer or any other animal. This is about a government agency permeated by left-wing activists and operated as an arm of the animal rights extremist movement. The USDA is using a non-problem to create a non-crisis to regulate captive hunts out of existence, because animal rights activists don’t like them. By the USDA and the Center for Disease Control’s own admission they don’t even know how CWD is spread.  They offer no evidence there was a potential emergency with the Brakkes' operation – yet the jack-boots marched in and declared the place to be shut down. End of story. No recourse.
Directors, spokespersons, Department heads in the Obama Administration, and the President himself may smile and say that new gun restriction proposals have nothing to do with Americans right to hunt, but hunters should recognize that they are aggressively getting it done another way. Beware of the new changes in the name of “animal care” that occur behind the scenes or else one day we may wake up in a world where hunting is a thing of the past.

Author, Phil Christofanelli is the Director of Public Affairs for The Cavalry Group, a member based company protecting and defending the Constitutional and private property rights of law abiding animal owners, animal-related business, hunters, and agriculture concerns legally nationwide.


  1. Just curious, how many acres did they have 700 deer on?

  2. I guess that its like anything else, they would have to feed the animals regardless, but when you are starting any new business you cant expect it to go well when you breed at this high of a rate. As well, in the Agricultural and rural business aspect, you have to have alternative or back-up plans, that's why most people who start a business in the Agricultural arena now are trying to have their hands in multiple things cattle and farming, corn and orchards, wine vineyards and retail, they are trying to have something as alternatives. To tie up everything you have in deer and hunting which is one select arena you are stuck, it wasn't a wise business decision to grow rapidly either, they were counting on the hunting to cull their herd and therefore generating income and supporting the rest of the herd, when starting something commercial as this really is, they should have started with a controlled amount of deer and allowed the growth at a slow rate, but you catch the immediate attention of all otherwise. Fundamentally I realize you are angry at animal activists, however, you do realize that NOT every one agrees with controlled hunting, and not everyone agrees with this type of family business, it's not just the leftist nuts as you say. I am just stating the obvious. When you have tremendous growth in the breeding department of any mammals you will catch the eye of everyone, and whether you actually realize it there are hunters who also disagree with type of business, just pointing out that when it doesn't go your way-maybe if they would have just raised a deer herd and had them packaged as jerky sticks they wouldn't have had this trouble. Just a suggestion for anyone raising deer, I showed this story to a deer farmer in our area in Illinois and he said that's the most ridiculous hunting idea he has ever heard of and that they actually would have been in business longer just having them processed and culling the herds that way-because he said when word gets out hunters come on your land to hunt animals confined for hunting your inviting trouble to your family. Sadly, he is correct, too bad these people are going through this, but its a lesson to all, don't have more than you can manage if you cant sell them for profit and if you love it so much just make sure you love with a few close friends who can keep their mouths SHUT!

  3. shameful comments. The point is that it is not our place to decide how these people should manage their property. It IS our place to make sure we have a government that will not Unconstitutionally destroy the fruits of their labors.

  4. nothing shameful about these comments.

    as stewards of the wild, as hunters, it's our place to decide if it is a threat to our wildlife, and to humans. if the fruits of your labors harms others, it is very much every hunters, every persons rights. all the shooting pens, antler mills, sperm mills, game farms, etc., are in it for is the money, nothing else matters. it's all livestock. ...

    Wednesday, July 31, 2013

    Iowa Brakke Family Farmed CWD livestock update July 3, 2013

    Friday, December 14, 2012

    DEFRA U.K. What is the risk of Chronic Wasting Disease CWD being introduced into Great Britain? A Qualitative Risk Assessment October 2012

    snip...see my full submission to the state of Missouri on CWD here ;

    Sunday, June 09, 2013

    Missouri House forms 13-member Interim Committee on the Cause and Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease CWD

    Thursday, July 11, 2013

    The New Hornographers: The Fight Over the Future of Texas Deer, Captive shooting pens, and the CWD TSE prion disease

    Tuesday, July 02, 2013

    National Rifle Association and the Unified Sportsman of Florida support a Florida ban on the importation of captive deer and cervids into Florida

    Tuesday, April 16, 2013

    Cervid Industry Unites To Set Direction for CWD Reform and seem to ignore their ignorance and denial in their role in spreading Chronic Wasting Disease

    Monday, June 24, 2013

    The Effects of Chronic Wasting Disease on the Pennsylvania Cervid Industry Following its Discovery

    kind regards,

  5. Sunday, August 25, 2013

    Prion2013 Chronic Wasting Disease CWD risk factors, humans, domestic cats, blood, and mother to offspring transmission

  6. Once again its the idiot Singeltary who is a self proclaimed doctor, who was a high school DROP OUT!! Get some education and people will listen