Unfortunately, most of the outbreaks of anthrax in places like Val Verde county are never reported and never become statistics. I learned this the hard way. Ranches/ranchers in the area will not talk about it, acknowledge it, or will give vague and misleading information.
One ranch hand who was feeling talkative educated me. He said they find dead animals all the time. Even when finding multiple animals that were clearly the victims of Anthrax, they simply burn them and are given strict orders not to talk or disclose it. That way, owners, ramrods, or lease managers can "honestly" say they don't know of any anthrax outbreaks - because until they are reported, researched and verified - "who knows what those animals died of - anybody's guess".
I can assure you that when there is an "outbreak" it's not "concealable" by ranch hands/ranchers/outfitters trying to cover it up. It is very obvious when an area loses 80-90% of their animals. Word of mouth from hunters and today on social media has helped spread the news.
I think what he might have been referring to is normal anthrax annual mortality. Every year in the anthrax endemic zones there are deaths from anthrax. Not enough to significantly affect populations, but they occur nonetheless.
Hiding that is relatively easy but it really has no effect on hunting.
theRancher, listen to this and decide for yourself.
The place - Val Verde country, Brewer Ranch, 2009-2010, mid July. Group of hunters leasing the area and have been feeding, managing for a couple of year. They have a good crop of deer, high numbers (for the area), and have been tracking deer via game cams during the summer.
Over the course of just 1 week - all animals disappear from game cams. No animals seen, where they had been consistently getting pictures of dozens of deer for months. They question rancher/manager, no one knows anything. As the season progresses, no one hunting sees any animals all season.
After season, it leaks out that big anthrax hit on that ranch and neighboring property - 90% or more of all animals are wiped out. The lessors check into it and find that indeed there was an outbreak - but it was never reported to any authority.
The following year I am suckered into leasing. Go all year feeding, scouting, and running cams. Only 3-4 deer are ever seen. Ask about it (since I was shown pics of all these trophy deer from past couple of years). Rancher, ramrod, lease manager all tell me "just wait, they'll come out in a few months", "just wait, they'll come out of the woodwork when we get rain", "just wait, they'll come out the woodwork when it gets cool", and my favorite "We saw over a 100 deer driving in".
Nothing happens. Spend 30+ days on the property during season, only saw two live deer - and two merino sheep. (Did see plenty of hogs though). Even went so far as to spend several nights driving around on the roads, highways with a spotlight trying to find any deer. Never saw ANY. Even did a helicopter fly over - only saw 11 deer total over a LARGE area (thousands of acres). I should mention that once we got out of the effected area, we did see hundreds!
Started checking around myself. Finally got folks, neighbors and feed guys, to talk about the big kill that happened. Even had a ranch work take me to a pile of bones on a neighboring pasture where he and others burned animals.
Went back to rancher and lease manager and confronted them. They were vague and misleading in their comments. Saying things like "I don't KNOW of any anthrax outbreak", and "there are no official reports", etc. And there wasn't - go back and check online, you won't see any reports filed. Talked with Border Patrol one evening - he confirmed he saw folks collecting and burning carcasses - lots of carcasses. Game warden said he knew of it by word of mouth, it was "common" knowledge - but nothing official.
Think I'm making this up? The prior lessors of the property are folks right here on THF. Go back a couple of years and search reports - and the whole kill off is well documented. Hear it from someone besides me, and who has all the details. Then judge for yourself.
If there are no official reports filed - then it just didn't happen, right?
And just something to consider. Out that way, between Pandale and Juno, it is VERY remote and mostly badlands. There is no infrastruture for miles. Like you have to go more than 50 miles (as the crow flies) to get to a store, gas, water, etc. There is no incidental traffic. It is VERY easy to conceal just about anything that happens. Yes, word of mouth will leak out - eventually. But official reports - it just doesn't happen.