Cumberland Times-News


June 28, 2014

Bio-liquidator destroys parts of diseased deer

— CUMBERLAND — Chronic wasting disease in deer is caused by a prion, a warped protein.

“The only 100 percent known way to get rid of a prion is to liquidate it,” said Harry Spiker of the Maryland Wildlife & Heritage Service.

Using a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in 2010 the agency spent $50,000 to purchase a used bio-liquidator, about half the price of a new model.

“During deer season we collect deer heads from meat processors and take samples that will be tested for CWD,” Spiker said.

The heads are then placed into the bio-liquidator, which is stored at the Billmeyer Wildlife Management Area in eastern Allegany County, within the established CWD Management Zone where the disease has been confirmed in two deer.

Chronic wasting disease is a neurological ailment found in deer and elk. It belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

The disease slowly attacks the brain, causing the animal to progressively become emaciated, display abnormal behavior and eventually die. There is no evidence to suggest that CWD poses a risk for humans or domestic animals.

Spiker said lined landfills are presumed to be safe places to put deer carcasses that have or could have CWD.

“And some states incinerate them, but there is some concern about that process releasing the prions into the environment,” Spiker said.

The biologist said the liquid that comes out of the bio-liquidator after 12 to 16 hours of processing is the color of coffee and is safe to use as fertilizer.

The machine, which can be hooked up to 220 current or run on its own generator, was loaned to the Pennsylvania Game Commission when CWD was discovered there.

Contact Outdoor Editor Mike Sawyers at

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