Chronic Wasting Disease brings challenges for hunters

Chronic Wasting Disease brings challenges for hunters

You may be planning a hunting trip for the fall or winter, and hunting can sometimes bring challenges like weather and interruptions that may scare off that buck you have been following around. Aaron Sisson, a biologist for Texas Parks and Wildlife said that now, there is another challenge that could affect the season.

"CWD has been found in white tail and mule deer, and native cervids," Sisson said. "It can also affect moose, elk, and other members of the cervid family, other deer, so fallow deer, axis deer potentially. So far in Texas, there have actually only been two places where CWD has been found. This one instance in Medina County, they found one two-year-old white tail deer that had it, in a captive breeding facility. It's the first time that CWD has ever been found in white tail deer in the state of Texas and it's the first time CWD has been found in a captive breeding herd in Texas."

It is called Chronic Wasting Disease, and it's found in deer. Synonymous to Mad Cow Disease, CWD is a neurological disease of deer and elk which produces small lesions in the brain. Signs to look for are loss of body condition, behavioral abnormalities, and death. It can be transferred to other deer, which raises concern for hunters.

"CWD is actually fatal, 100% fatal, for deer who have contracted it," Sisson said. "One of the main priorities of Texas Parks and Wildlife is that CWD does not negatively impact hunting and fishing heritage that Texans are used to. So they've made that a main priority to make sure the deer are protected, and hunters and sportsman are protected."

Much of the Texas economy is driven by hunting and fishing. Sisson said that Texas Parks and Wildlife is trying to make sure that income is protected as well.

"Deer hunting in Texas and hunting in general contributes $2.8 billion to the Texas economy," Sisson said. "So it is a real priority of Parks and Wildlife to make sure that this does not get out of hand and doesn't impact the rural economies across the state."

Sisson said that something else to be mindful of is preparing deer meat properly.

"It is always a good idea to make sure your wild game is cooked thoroughly so that any of those prions that might be in there are dead," Sisson said.

You should practice caution when cooking and consuming any meat products including deer meat, however there have been no known cases of Chronic Wasting Disease affecting humans.

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