Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) catapulted into the world of deer hunters all over the South when an afflicted white-tailed deer was discovered in the Mississippi Delta this past January.
It was the first case so close to Alabama, and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division immediately responded by adding Mississippi to the list of states where special precautions were in effect to minimize the chance of spreading the disease.
Four months later, WFF asked that the rules regarding the importation of carcasses from members of the cervid family (deer, elk, moose, caribou, etc.) be extended to all states and Canada.
Those rules state that hunters should completely debone the animal and remove and dispose of any brain or spinal tissue from skull plates, raw capes and hides before returning to Alabama. Those skull plates must be free of any brain or spinal cord material. Velvet-covered antlers are also included in the prohibited materials. Root structures and other soft tissue should also be removed from all teeth. Finished taxidermy products and tanned hides are not affected by the ban.
“We are doing our seminar series that will focus on CWD,” said Chuck Sykes, WFF Director. “We are purchasing billboard advertisement up and down our major road systems. We’re also doing some outreach at gas pumps and ice machines at convenience stores in strategic places around the state.”
Sykes said there is so much misinformation in the public square, whether online or around the campfire, that WFF is doing everything it can to ensure people are getting the correct information.
“There are rumors that it is already here in Alabama, which is not true,” Sykes said. “There are rumors that it’s made up; there’s no such thing as CWD. The best one I’ve heard is it’s just a way for the state to make money. I wish they would show me how we’re going to make money when we’re having to move resources and money to help test animals and educate the public. It’s typical anti-government rhetoric that doesn’t have any basis in reality. So, we’re trying our best to get the facts out.”
Learn more about CWD at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website.
(Photo source: Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries)