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SAN ANTONIO (AP) – State officials say a program to check the spread of chronic wasting disease among white-tailed deer by culling the free-ranging herd proceeds slowly despite a judge’s rejection of a legal challenge to the program.

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State hunters began shooting deer Monday, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department spokesman Steve Lightfoot says the department hopes to be through by the weekend. He tells the San Antonio Express-News that more than 30 deer had been shot and submitted for testing to see if the disease had spread from captive animals to the free-ranging herd.

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The disease broke out in the captive heard at a ranch owned by Robert and Susan Patterson. They asked a judge to stop state hunters from entering their ranch, but state District Judge Mickey Pennington denied the order.

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