Providing Absolute, Accurate Identification

By: Gail Veley
Originally appeared in the Summer 2018 Issue of the Upper Midwest Cervid Newsletter

Managing a herd of deer, no matter the size, might prove a daunting task. Unlike your dog who may come running when you call, deer seldom if ever respond to voice commands. Coupled with the fact that many deer look alike and often lose their ears tags, microchipping your deer can be your biggest and easiest identification asset. A microchipped deer can always be scanned and positively identified.

Dr. John Wade, a native of Louisiana, has worked in the microchipping industry since 1989. Although dogs, cats and horses have been getting microchipped close to 30 years, only in the last three years or so has microchipping really caught on in the deer industry. "Certain parts of the country require microchipping for deer, like Louisiana," Dr. Wade explained. “In Texas, any deer farm that participates in the CWD program must use a radio-frequency identification (RFID) microchip or use an RFID ear tag on their deer." These microchips can be bought through Dr. Wade or other microchipping companies. Livestock microchips always begin with the numbers “840," are registered with the USDA, and can be obtained after Texas Animal Health (TAH) issues your farm a Premise ID, Dr. Wade explained. And although issued by the state, the Premise ID is a federal number

Whether required by your state or not, microchips are a second-to-none tool for meticulous herd management. Microchips can be injected “sub-Q" and are quite reasonably priced. If a deer farmer is comfortable giving shots, they will probably feel comfortable self-microchipping, Dr. Wade said. Scanners can also be purchased for around $200. Although deer farmers typically keep very good management records, ear tags face the inevitability of being lost. Therefore, whether your deer reside on your farm, are used for breeding, or live in your preserve, you will never lose your ability to positively identify them if they are microchipped. Some deer farmers even use the microchip ID number as their deer's main identification number.

Animals that live in areas prone to hurricanes, such as horses and dogs, have especially benefited from microchips. Dr. Wade’s curious microchipped Australian shepherd rar off once to explore his neighborhood after a hurricane had hit. He was found five miles away and easily reunited with Wade. “There is a 20 times greater chance of being reunited with a pet if it is microchipped," he emphasized. Close to 250,000 microchip scanners are available throughout the US. and are provided to rescue organizations by microchipping companies when the situation is warranted. "The first ‘A' Number One thing, everybody gets scanned," Wade said, in reference to rescue efforts. Organizations provided with scanners on a regular basis include disaster response teams, animal shelter employees, animal control officers and even wildlife conservation organizations in places such as Africa or Singapore.

Dr. Wade represents the microchipping industry regularly at various organizational events throughout the U.S. including NADeFA, the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo, and the Colorado Horse Council, to name a few. The most rewarding thing about his job is the recovery of animals and the gratitude shown by owners. He has also provided supplies to animal rescue teams for places such as gorilla sanctuaries, for microchipping orphaned baby gorillas. “(Animal rescue personnel) had completed building a vet facility in Africa. They sent pictures of the gorillas, and of the employees who had huge smiles on their faces as they stocked their shelves with microchips,” Dr. Wade said. “They were very appreciative. Helping these organizations manage their animals makes us all feel very good about what we are doing. Likewise, we are certain deer farmers will appreciate having a more guaranteed way to manage their herds."