Tennessee targets deer disease with $1M carcass incinerator

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A $1 million deer carcass incinerator is in the works at a Tennessee landfill to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease.

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission said it approved the budget expansion for the project during its December meeting.

Fayette County will maintain and operate the incinerator at the local landfill.

Processors and hunters can use the incinerator to dispose of deer from high-risk counties and counties where animals have tested positive for the disease in southwest Tennessee.

MORE: TWRA: Burial site for CWD infected deer is short term solution

The incinerator will reach temperatures necessary to kill the disease, which attacks the nervous system of white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose, eventually killing them.

The incinerator will be operational by next hunting season, Hank Wright, commissioner of the agency’s District 9, said.

“CWD poses many challenges including safe disposal of deer carcasses. As a response to concerns from citizens regarding the burial of carcasses, the TWFC has fully funded the purchase of a large incinerator that will be operational by next hunting season” said Dr. Hank Wright, commissioner of TFWC District 9. “We are working to put the best science available to use while serving not only the hunting public, but all citizens living in southwest Tennessee.”

The commission first detected the disease in December 2018 and has aimed to keep it from spreading, it said.

The disease spreads through animal-to-animal contact and indirectly through food and soil contaminated with bodily excretions.

There’s currently no direct evidence that chronic wasting disease poses a threat to humans, the agency said. Federal health officials still suggest that people not consume meat from an animal that tests positive for the disease.

“When it comes to inactivating and denaturing prions and making them unavailable to infect additional animals, wildlife managers have very limited options,” said Dr. Dan Grove, UT Extension Assistant Professor and Wildlife Veterinarian. “Having a large scale incinerator available in Unit CWD will help provide a needed outlet for many of the potentially infectious waste materials generated from deer and CWD management activities in southwest Tennessee.”

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