State Monitors Borders To Keep ‘Zombie Deer’ Out

File photo.

Oct 06, 2019

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Zombie deer may sound like something in a bad B-movie, but wildlife regulators say they’re real and officials are working to keep them out of Nevada.

The term relates to animals that have contracted chronic wasting disease, a highly contagious and terminal disorder that causes symptoms such as lack of fear of humans, lethargy and emaciation, The Las Vegas Sun reported.

It can destroy deer and elk populations.

Officials are testing dead animals and monitoring migratory elk and deer at the state line with Utah for signs of the sickness, Peregrine Wolff, a Nevada Department of Wildlife veterinarian, said.

Nevada legislators also passed a law earlier this year to keep parts of certain carcasses out of the state in an attempt to stop the spread of the disease.

States reporting animals with the illness include Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming. New Rules Just Out For 2019 Deer Season; Are They Enough?

The disease is neither viral nor bacterial. Instead, it is transmitted by prions — protein particles that have been linked to brain diseases including mad cow disease in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

Prion diseases damage brain tissue, leading to abnormal behavior, and are incurable.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised concern that chronic wasting disease may pose a risk to humans.

The minimum time between exposure and the first symptoms is thought to be 16 months, according to a study posted to the Center for Food Security and Public Health.

The average incubation period is two to four years. Some studies show that animals are contagious before symptoms start.

Wolff said finding just one is rare because the disease is so contagious and it remains in the environment for years.

A 2004 study in the Centers for Disease Control’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal showed two captive mule deer populations were infected with the disease in separate paddocks that hadn’t had infected animals in them about two years.

Nevada lawmakers this year banned bringing certain animal body parts into the state, including the brain and the spinal cord that can contain large concentrations of prions.

In testimony about the proposed law, Tyler Turnipseed, chief Nevada game warden, posed a scenario where local populations are infected by exposure to butchered waste dumped by a hunter passing through Nevada from another state.

J.J. Goicoechea, a state Department of Agriculture veterinarian, told lawmakers that officials fear the spread of the disease into Nebraska, Utah, Idaho and Nevada.

Wolff said efforts to decrease risk probably won’t stop the disease at the Nevada state line.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” she said. “We know that we can’t wrap Nevada in a bubble.” Information from: Las Vegas Sun,

These Changes Are Worth Your Time to Stop the Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease

August 8, 2018

As deer hunters, we will inevitably have to change our habits to prevent the spread of CWD—how much are you willing to give up so we don’t have to give up on hunting altogether?

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership – We know by now that chronic wasting disease has infected deer species in 25 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

It is always fatal, spreads rampantly, which, unfortunately, demands that hunters make at least some sacrifices if we hope to curb the epidemic and save deer hunting as we know it.

CWD has most recently made a pass through the upper-Midwest states where I live and hunt. That makes this disease not only detrimental at a population scale, but also deeply personal for me.

I don’t believe that hunters are more averse to change than the average group of people, but we’ve often been asked to change our ways for the good of the herd or landscape.

The good news is that we’ll be at the forefront of the effort to control this destructive disease. The bad news is we’ll also have to be at the forefront of change, no matter how uncomfortable.

How much should we be willing to sacrifice? If you ask me, quite a bit.

CWD Directly Threatens the Places Where I Hunt

I have been hunting in Michigan since I was five years old, at which point I convinced my dad to build us a deer blind and take me along with him.

Back in those days, we started “hunting” with a camera, a Stanley thermos of hot chocolate, and, on his part, a whole lot of patience for a squirmy kid.

Since then I have upgraded to a 12-gauge slug gun and Folgers, but we still sit on that same stone pile every November. Three generations of Boohers hunt together on an old family farm in the southwest part of the state every year. Read more.