Tragic loss at Prairie Island Deer Park


From: Dick Smith

I am sure by now many of you have noticed the void in the Prairie Island Deer Park. Yes, the little white doe that we have come to know and love is gone. She was one of the three deer that the city acquired from a deer farm in Winona County a couple years ago. This unusual deer was the star and the main attraction for the park. People were fascinated with her beauty. However, it seems that there was a case of chronic wasting disease in the county farm earlier this year and a higher power in the DNR decided that these three deer should be analyzed for the disease to make sure that they were not contaminated with CWD. That requires the animal to be euthanized and the brain removed for the test. Pretty gruesome. Sounds like a necessary plan to stop the spread of this dreaded disease until you look a little closer. I understand that it usually takes about 18 to 24 months for any symptoms of CWD to occur. It was around 23 months when they decided to do the testing. None of the herd had any symptoms at that time and it puzzles me why they did not wait a little longer to see if any developed. The animals are in a secure, confined area so the disease could not travel any further even if it did show up. The worst-case scenario is that all six deer in the park would have to be put down. It is now 24 months since their acquisition and the tests for this disease came back negative on all three deer. The extra wait time could have saved the deer. I do not claim to be an expert on CWD, but the “wait and watch” theory makes sense to me. Seems like such a tragic loss of life but what’s done is done. Some may say that the deer were “only animals,” — no big deal! Anyone who has a pet dog or cat knows that they are not “only animals,” they are also a member of the family. Imagine parents trying to explain to their children what happened to the beautiful treasure they always enjoyed visiting. This little white doe brought pleasure and joy to a countless number of visitors. The park still has three healthy deer to visit, but there is a very sad emptiness without her. Rest in peace beautiful snow white princess. You will live forever in our fondest memories.


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