While confirmed cases of chronic wasting disease(CWD) among whitetail deer do exist in the great state of Texas, in the past they have been reserved for deer housed in breeding facilities, until now.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) announced Wednesday that they have detected the degenerative disease in a hunter harvested 1 ½-year-old whitetail buck that was submitted for sampling within Surveillance Zone 3, just west of San Antonio.

Together with Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), TPWD is working closely on developing an early detection and containment strategy for the deadly disease.

“Although the disease has been discovered in a free-ranging whitetail in this area, we cannot draw any conclusions at this time based on one detection,” said Dr. Bob Dittmar, TPWD’s Wildlife Veterinarian. “The proactive measures we are taking as part of our epidemiological investigation into this case are in line with the state’s strategies to prevent this disease from spreading any further. The more effective we are at containing this disease within a limited geographic area, the better it will be for our wildlife resources and all those who enjoy them.”

Under an executive order from TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith, Surveillance Zone 3 will now be a CWD Containment Zone.  The restrictions placed on CWD Containment Zones include limited restrictions on the movements of carcass parts as well as live deer possessed under the authority of a permit.  All deer harvested within this zone are now subject to mandatory CWD testing.

“This emergency action allows us to contain the threat of this disease spreading any further while we collect more information and gather more data,” said T. Dan Friedkin, Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission Chairman. “Not only are these temporary emergency measures necessary and consistent with the state’s planned strategies for CWD management, they are essential for ensuring the protection of the state’s whitetail deer herd and the integrity of our hunting heritage.

“It is my intent for the Commission to address this issue through our regular rulemaking process, which provides opportunities for public comment and input from stakeholders, and that process will begin soon,” Friedkin added.

“With the confirmation of CWD in a free-ranging buck in Medina County, the TAHC is working with TPWD to determine the disease risk in the area,” said Dr. Susan Rollo, TAHC State Epidemiologist. “TAHC understands and appreciates TPWD’s immediate response and temporary measures to prevent the inadvertent spread of CWD to other parts of Texas.”

TPWD is hopeful that they will analyze upwards of 1,749 samples from deer in Surveillance Zone 3 and as of yesterday, had collected roughly 720 samples from both hunter harvest and roadkills. In addition to these types of samples, officials are also looking to secure about 200 additional samples from deer breeding facilities and release sites in the zone as well.

“TPWD is very appreciative of the effort and cooperation that has been put forth by landowners, hunters and local officials in the area,” said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director. “Our ability to control this disease is directly related to the cooperation offered by the citizens of Medina, Bandera and Uvalde counties, and we pledge to continue to work with everyone to minimize the impacts of this disease as well as these challenging but necessary measures designed to control the spread of CWD.”