Elk farming leads to wildlife slaughter

  Gunners from the ground and the air shot dead 120 deer and other wildlife this August so that Montana officials could test the animals for tuberculosis. State veterinarians said tests were necessary because elk had developed TB at a game farm along the Bighorn River, north of Hardin, and the disease had been transmitted to a wild mule deer. The three-day slaughter prompted two groups, Montana Wildlife Federation and Southeast Montana Sportsmen, to attack the game-farm industry. "If TB becomes established in a wild herd, it will never be gotten rid of," charged Dave Majors, president of the wildlife federation. "It would be the end of big game as we know it." The groups also criticized the public cost: $58,000 for slaughtering and testing the wild animals. The wildlife federation wants no new game farms in Montana. Utah and Wyoming have already banned game farming, but in Colorado the industry is expanding (HCN, 6/27/94). Results from the Montana TB test are not in; state officials say they will repeat the test this fall, when they slaughter another 120 deer.