MIDDLE,Tenn. (WKRN) -More than two dozen Tennessee deer have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) this deer season and the number is only expected to go up.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says the disease is a major concern, as they step up testing efforts.
“We are going to see a lot more positive CWD cases before it gets better,” Barry Cross with TWRA Region II told News 2.
He said that’s because the state now has a better way of tracking the prion disease and they are working hard to contain it.
“Right now in West Tennessee that’s what we are looking for, is the outer edge to see where the spread is so they can start containing from the outside in.”
The disease attacks the brains of infected animals and is 100 percent fatal for them, but there
there is a lot of unknown about the disease as if it could infect people.
The CDC says some animal studies suggest CWD poses a risk to some types of non-human primates, like monkeys.
CWD has been found in 4 Tennessee counties so far; Fayette, Hardeman, Madison, and Tipton. Six surrounding counties; Gibson, Crockett, Haywood, Chester, McNairy, and Shelby are now considered high risk for the disease.
“The regulations for all 10 of those counties have changed. The bating restrictions have been applied and of course you can’t transport harvested animals out of those counties,” Cross explained.
The agency has also implemented Replacement Buck and Earn a Buck programs in 8 of the CWD effected area counties to encourage more harvesting.
TWRA has also added freezer drop offsin Wayne and Wilson counties for testing.
As Muzzleloader season kicks off Saturday, the wildlife agency will be offering free testing in nine counties; Davidson, Cheatham, Sumner, Hickman, Wilson, Lawrence, Marshall, Cannon and Franklin counties.
“We want people to come in and voluntarily allow us to take samples from their animals. If they harvested a buck and they don’t want to mess up the mount we are working with taxidermist who will actually pull the lymph nodes for us and it’s just an effort really to get as many samples as we can to ensure that we are going to find this disease so that we can actually contain,” Cross explained.
TWRA will also set up CWD testing across Middle Tennessee opening day of gun season November 23rd.
For more information click here https://www.tn.gov/twra/hunting/cwd.html