Recent news of the discovery of chronic wasting disease in Tennessee deer has taken the concern and topic off the back burner of wildlife management officials in Tennessee and at Land Between the Lakes.
Updates have come out this week from both TWRA and LBL wildlife officials voicing concern.
Hunters are advised to read the two news releases that came out this week from both agencies in their attempt to get the word out to both hunters and wildlife enthusiasts.
First, a news release earlier this week from TWRA:
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is enacting the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Response plan, following a preliminary positive detection of CWD in white-tailed deer in Hardeman and Fayette counties.
The response plan involves a coordinated effort between TWRA, Tennessee Department of Agriculture and other partners.
Seven deer in Fayette County and three in Hardeman County have preliminarily tested positive for CWD. Additional samples are being tested and the TWRA is actively trying to contact the hunters who harvested these deer.
“Once arrangements are made, TWRA will be encouraging hunters harvesting deer in these areas to submit their deer for testing,” said Chuck Yoest, TWRA CWD coordinator.
“Hunters are our biggest ally in managing chronic wasting disease in Tennessee if it is confirmed here,” said Dr. Dan Grove, wildlife veterinarian, University of Tennessee Extension.
“Besides submitting deer from the to-be-defined CWD Zone, the most important thing everyone needs to do is follow the regulations for moving harvested deer. (www.tn.gov/content/tn/twra/hunting/cwd.html/#law).
Although CWD has no known risk to the health of humans or livestock, it is a contagious and deadly neurological disorder that affects members of the deer family.
It is transmitted through animal-to-animal contact, animal contact with a contaminated environment, and with contaminated feed or water sources.
It is the most significant threat to the deer population nationwide, as it is 100 percent fatal to deer and elk.
Wildlife agencies across the country are working to inform the public about CWD, its deadly results and possible impacts to economies.
Currently, 25 states and three Canadian provinces have documented CWD. Last week, Mississippi announced a preliminary CWD positive hunter-harvested deer in Marshall County, which became the closest to Tennessee and the fourth overall this year in Mississippi.
Other confirmed cases have previously been made in the border states of Arkansas, Missouri and Virginia.
More information about CWD, including cervid import restrictions and videos that explain how to properly dress an animal before transporting it, can be found on TWRA’s website at www.tnwildlife.org (www.tn.gov/content/tn/twra/hunting/cwd.html).
Land Between the Lakes also responded to the recent CWD scenario:
The U.S. Forest Service at Land Between the Lakes now prohibits the transport of harvested deer across state lines inside the National Recreation Area.
Forest Service officials are taking this step to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease.
Seven white-tailed deer have tested positive for CWD in the State of Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
Both Kentucky and Tennessee are now limiting the transport of certain deer parts across state lines.
LBL spans both Kentucky and Tennessee with hunter check stations in each. LBL hunters are now required to check animals at the hunter check station in the state of harvest.
It is unlawful to transport deer onto LBL that were harvested outside the boundary.
“This is a very serious disease that can have catastrophic impacts on our deer and elk herds,” said John Westbrook, LBL environmental stewardship manager.
“We want people to have spectacular hunting experiences for years to come at Land Between the Lakes. It’s so important that hunters follow the rules to keep the spread of CWD isolated.”
According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, “Hunters are prohibited from bringing any deer from Tennessee into Kentucky unless the brain and spinal column have been removed first.”
The U.S. Forest Service fully supports the respective states and encourages hunters to check with game processors before transporting any harvested meat across state lines.
STEVE McCADAMS is The Post-Intelligencer’s outdoors writer. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.