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Chronic Wasting Disease Rampant

Deer in Arkansas and across the United States are being affected by Chronic Wasting Disease.

Photo taken from flickr under Creative Commons License.

Deer in Arkansas and across the United States are being affected by Chronic Wasting Disease.

Erik Carter, Reporter

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In this year’s hunting season, hunters should be concerned about more than just keeping their scent under control or making sure their camouflage is decent. They must now worry about a disease spurring in deer and elk all across Arkansas called Chronic Wasting disease (CWD).

Similar to Scrapie in sheeps and goats and Mad Cow disease in cattle, CWD is a disease that was recorded as far back as 1967, in Colorado. Since then, the disease has spread into three different countries and 23 different states.

CWD is caused by abnormal proteins called prions that develop in the tissue of affected elk and deer. At first, elk and deer will show no signs of the disease, but as time progresses, the disease will make these animals looks thin and weak and bring side effects, such as unnatural behavior, excessive thirst or drooling. Once the symptoms kick in, it is only a matter of time before affected animals die. No known treatments or vaccines have been discovered to stop CWD.

An infected elk or deer is able to spread the prion protein through feces, urine, saliva, blood, contaminated soil, water, food and contact with infected carcasses. To reduce the spread of CWD, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) has taken steps such as reducing elk and deer densities, slowing the movement of the infected animals and stopping the congregation of elk and deer. The AGFC has also initiated new regulations concerning the areas where CWD has been found along with more new statewide regulations.

So far no cases of CWD infecting humans have ever been recorded, but the AGFC recommends hunters err on the side of caution by avoiding the consumption of meat from elk and deer that seem to be sick or test positive for CWD.

A way to help control the spread of CWD is by disposing of a carcass properly. To do this, a hunter must either bury the carcass correctly or dispose of it in an approved Arkansas lined landfill. The AGFC has stated that if a hunter is unable to do either of those choices, the best thing to do is to contact AGFC by calling 800-482-9262.

In Arkansas, 288 total cases of CWD in deer and elk have been discovered as of Dec. 6, with 212 of the 288 found in Newton County. Other known counties where positive cases of CWD have been reported include Carroll County, Boone County, Madison County, Marion County, Pope County and Searcy County.

Click below to see new regulations concerning CWD.  

CWD Regulations

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Chronic Wasting Disease Rampant