NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency is looking at ways to combat the growing concern of Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD in deer.
The prion disease that attacks the brains of infected animals is showing up more in Tennessee. More than two dozen deer have tested positive for the disease this hunting season so far.
The agency just sent off 1500 samples of deer to Colorado to be tested for CWD.
“We see that we have about a 10 percent prevalence in the counties where we have positive results, so we expect you know about 10 percent of those are going to come back positive,” Barry Cross TWRA Outreach and Communications Coordinator told News 2.
Right now it takes about three weeks to get the results but Cross says they are looking at opening a CWD testing lab in Tennessee to speed up the process.
However, it likely wouldn’t be until 2021.
The agency recently started burying the infected carcasses on a site in Fayette county, but are looking at more long term options.
The TWRA owns the property in Fayette County in West Tennessee where they are disposing of the infected deer.
The site north of Rossville is fenced in to keep wildlife and people out. Cross says it is manned during the weekdays so carcasses are covered before being dropped in a pit with soil that breaks down the prion disease.
“We got together with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and we looked at the site. The soil composition of it is clay. It will bind the CWD prion in the soil so that the affluent, the water coming out of this site, will not have those prions in it,” he explained.
Cross says before this deer season the agency used privately owned landfills, but the landfill owners backed out this year. However, the agency hopes to get them back on board in the future.
“There are two long term solutions that we are looking at. One is to go back to the landfill owners and talk to them about the science of CWD and how these prions will not be in the groundwater. The other thing is we are looking at purchasing some incinerators, which would, in essence, burn the carcasses.”
Cross says the CWD prion has to reach about 1800 degrees to become inert. However, he says incinerators can be very pricey and a cost that the agency would have to cover.