2018-07-11 / News

USDA officials reportedly slaughter Port Mansfield deer infested by ticks

by Allen Essex

Port Mansfield deer. 
(Staff Photo) Port Mansfield deer. (Staff Photo) Another deer harvest recently took place at Port Mansfield to cull animals infested with fever ticks, a local game warden said Tuesday.

U.S. Department of Agriculture workers checked some of the local deer herd for ticks about two weeks ago. After finding the infestation, the USDA obtained a permit from Texas Parks and Wildlife and eliminated deer, but he is unsure of the number, TP&W Game Warden Rocky Corona said.

“They did that last year, too,” he said. The culling doesn’t happen every year, but it does take place fairly often.

“There are too many deer out there,” said Corona, who covers the Port Mansfield area. “There are a lot of them and, when you have too many, they get sick.”

The fever ticks can affect cattle and cause large economic losses to Texas ranchers, according to the Texas Animal Health Commission website.

Willacy County, especially Port Mansfield, has a high number of whitetail deer and they especially congregate at Port Mansfield because people have fed them there for many years, local officials say. The deer also seem to sense they will be safe from hunters there. On hot days, deer are often seen sleeping or resting in the shade of trees, which are scarce in open ranch country.

Willacy County Navigation District officials have an ordinance against people stopping their cars along streets in Port Mansfield. The ordinance was passed to prevent car accidents.

Many people specifically drive to Port Mansfield so their children or grandchildren can see and, sometimes, feed the deer, despite efforts by Navigation District officials to ban the practice.

The Texas Animal Health Commission has identified Willacy County as one of the areas with the highest concentration of deer with fever ticks.

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