CWD is a neurological disease that slowly kills deer with visible symptoms not typically showing until close to death.

Last week, officials with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department killed 249 deer infected with chronic wasting disease, or CWD, all belonging to a single game rancher who for years staunchly challenged the state over the handling of his herd.

The killings occurred over three hours Tuesday at the 1,500-acre RW Trophy Ranch in Terrell, Texas, 35 miles east of Dallas. TPWD officials used gunfire to kill the deer, stopping an outbreak that had been called by state officials "the worst-ever CWD outbreak in Texas," according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

CWD is a neurological disease that slowly kills deer with visible symptoms not typically showing until close to death. Since 2012, TPWD has reported 795 positive, confirmed cases in deer statewide. Researchers have found no evidence that CWD could be a threat to humans, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises individuals not to eat meat from CWD-positive animals.

Robert Williams, who is 85 and runs the white-tailed deer-breeding ranch with his daughter Maree Lou Williams, told HuffPost that he eats infected venison. His three-year war against the state started in February 2021 after three white-tailed deer at RW Trophy's breeding pens died of pneumonia after the statewide freeze, and one of the deer tested positive for CWD. Williams reported the case, beginning a months-long battle between the rancher and the state over a management plan to contain and stop any outbreak.

But the disease spread, increasing the threat on the state's deer population. By April 2022, according to the Star-Telegram, eight deer had tested positive for CWD. Around that time, the state ordered all deer to be killed, either by euthanasia or at night by gunfire, but Williams rejected those options.

"It would be a slaughter," Williams told HuffPost in 2022. "I said there's no way I'd agree to that. That looks like Nazi Germany's deer herd plan."

Williams fought the order by suing the state, and specifically Texas Animal Health Commission and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. The lawsuit, which was filed January 2022, lasted two years and reached the Texas Supreme Court after the Houston 14th Court of Appeals in February 2024 upheld the state's decision. In April, the Star-Telegram reported that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state, allowing the killings to be carried out. By then, 208 positive CWD cases had been reported at the ranch.

By Tuesday, that number had reached 254, and around 7 p.m., TPWD officials carried out a complete killing of William's deer population.