Deer samples needed for CWD testing as gun season opens

Tennessee News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As deer-gun hunting season opens Saturday, 
it’s more important than ever for hunters to remain vigilant, according to those managing CWD. 

As the most popular hunting season across the state kicks off, they are hoping hunters will respond to the call for voluntary Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) testing.

CWD is a highly-contagious disease that infects the nervous system of deer, elk, and other members of the deer family. It causes brain degeneration, extreme weight loss, abnormal behavior and is ultimately fatal.

Hunters play a key part in helping monitor the disease. Reducing the population of deer is the best way to keep the prevalence rate down, according to those working to manage the disease.

“If you don’t actively manage against this disease it has the potential to really damage your deer heard long term,” Michael Butler CEO of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation told News 2.

The nonprofit, built of wildlife enthusiasts is doing their part tonnage the disease. 

“I can’t emphasize enough that we need people to stay engaged, hunters have to be a part of this solution. They are a big part of how we manage wildlife as a tool regardless of rather you have a disease outbreak like this, but they are even more important now that you do have this outbreak,” Butler explained. 

He says the federation has around 300-thousand friends and supporters that they keep up to date with the latest information on the disease as they work with landowners in the CWD infected counties as well as the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

“We are trying to bring the research that’s been done at this point to the table working with the Wildlife Agency to put practices in place that will help try to manage the disease and keep it in check,” said Butler. 

This year the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission made changes to deer hunting regulations, extending the season in the CWD zone and offering programs that increase kill limits. 

“We expect hunters to take advantage of the liberalized season and the new liberalized bag limits in the CWD zone and we expect that to have a positive outcome on the testing, really right now the goal for TWRA is to find the leading edge of where has the disease spread to,” Butler explained.

The TWRA says so far, hunters have stepped up to the challenge. 

“Our hunters in Tennessee have responded and they’ve responded positively to helping us with this issue. You know the old saying about your kids, it takes a village and in this fight, it’s going to take everybody being on the same page to help control and hopefully limit the spread of the disease,” Barry Cross with the TWRA explained. 

They are asking hunters to continue helping with the monitoring effort of CWD by bringing their harvest to one of the sampling locations Saturday. 

“We expect a lot of people to be out in the woods. It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving, a lot of people that’s traditionally their time to get out and go hunting so the opening day of gun season we plan on seeing quite a few deer being brought in to processors and other areas for us to sample,” said Cross.

This year he says there have been over 350 samples collected and sent off for testing from Middle Tennessee. 15-hundred have been sent off from the CED infected area, which now includes Shelby as a positive county. 

The TWRA will be collecting samples at 9 locations across the state on Saturday.

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