Chronic Wasting Disease: What you need to know this season

Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 6:04 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks is reporting an increase in deer infected with Chronic Wasting Disease in 2022 and is asking hunters to do their part to help with controlling the population.

During one of the most popular seasons in the south, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks is asking outdoorsmen to take an extra step in the hunting experience.

“We encourage hunters to submit their samples for testing for two reasons. One, you want to feed that animal to your family. You want to know whether it’s CWD positive or not. But number two, those samples help us determine where it is in the state and what the disease is doing,” Russ Walsh with MDWFP said.

Chronic Wasting Disease is known to impact deer populations across the country. In Mississippi, 142 positive cases have been reported since 2018, and the number of cases has gone up each year.

“It’s highly contagious to other deer, so it can spread, and it’s always fatal. So we can see some evidence is that it can cause a decline in deer populations,” Walsh explained.

Walsh said the disease could cause a deer to have abnormal behavior, lose bodily functions, be thinner than normal, and more. However, you may not see those symptoms in every infected deer.

“They may have the disease for 12 to 18 to 24 months, and they may look perfectly fine. Then all of a sudden, right at the end of the disease, the symptoms show up,” Walsh said.

While the disease is most common in North Mississippi, Warren County and Issaquena County are both C.W.D. Zones and have had positive cases turn up this year.

But that shouldn’t stop folks from getting outdoors and scoring the big buck this season.

“One thing we want to understand, though, is we want you to continue being hunters. Go out there and harvest deer, take kids, and harvest deer. Don’t let it stop anything that you’ve already been doing. Just now, take another precaution or another step by submitting that sample for testing,” Walsh said.

For more information on the disease, where to get a deer tested, and more, visit the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks website.

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