Fearing the off season like an NFL owner is not something most hunters are typically concerned about. While many of us are relishing in the spoils of (hopefully) successful big game seasons, as state wildlife agencies report results from testing, there is ample cause for concern.
As hunters, it might come as a surprise to most to hear that we are deeply connected to the animals we so vehemently pursue. The fact is; we care about the quarry we chase more than most do.
Not much else can illustrate this point as the inherent concern that cloaks us when we learn about a deadly disease such as chronic wasting disease running rampant a little too close to home. While there are many states still left unscathed by the debilitating disease, cases are popping up in places that we had yet to discover it such as the great state of Montana.
As hunting seasons come to a close, the results period from mandatory testing began and there are no shortages of infected animals.
Initially, it was mule deer in west Texas that succumb to the disease with the first case reported back in 2012. Since then, the disease has been detected in 16 additional mule deer and an elk in both the western portion of the state and Panhandle.
Whitetails seemed to have skirted infection for a few years when officials tested a dead deer at a breeding facility in 2015 that tested positive for the disease. It was in such facilities that officials immediately turned their attention and quickly found more infection among captive populations.
Last week, Texas Parks and Wildlife officials picked up a roadkill buck in the Texas Panhandle and subsequently tested it for CWD. Results confirmed infection and marked the first discovery of CWD in a Texas roadkill and the first in a Panhandle whitetail deer.
The Keystone State has been making a lot of noise in the CWD world, especially among captive cervid breeders. With cases also dating back to 2012, the Pa. Game Commission continues to expand Disease Management Areas (DMAs) in a continued attempt to contain the disease.
Test results released in late 2017 indicated an additional four cases of infection, once again, from captive deer facilities, which are now under quarantine.
The most recent cases of the disease bring the state’s all-time total up to 44 confirmed cases since 2012.
A new member of the CWD club, Arkansas has limited experience with the disease but is quickly adjusting. With the first case detected a mere 24 months ago the state has racked up 346 confirmed cases in both deer and elk.
The bad news is, the four most recent cases confirmed by Arkansas officials earlier this month are the first for Benton, Sebastian, and Washington counties.
Missou has long been under the impression that infected deer from neighboring Arkansas, having hundreds of cases found in the area of the Missouri-Arkansas border. Much the same as other infected states, the disease was first detected in captive breeding facilities in 2010 and has since spread to free-range deer.
Earlier in the month, the Missouri Department of Conservation reported 15 additional cases of CWD in free-ranging whitetail deer. The result of testing 18,400 animals so far brings the total of confirmed cases in Missou to 57. Officials are optimistic – with no new cases in the central regions of the state – it is believed to be somewhat under control.