Directors with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission updated members recently on the impact Chronic Wasting Disease now has on our deer population.
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a fatal neurological disease similar to mad cow disease but found only in deer, elk, moose, and caribou. It was first detected in a deer in Arkansas in March of this year.
CWD is not spread by a virus but by a type of mutated protein found in saliva, feces, urine, blood and decaying carcasses of infected animals. There is no evidence to date that shows it can be transmitted to livestock or to humans. However, public health officials recommend not consuming meat from known infected animals, or animals that appear sick.
Infected animals may not show any symptoms of the disease. In later stages of the disease, however, infected animals may display abnormal behavior such as staggering, standing with very poor posture or losing fear of humans.
The AGFC has completed its first phase of CWD monitoring. It has confirmed that the disease has a prevalence of 23 percent in Newton and Boone counties. Of 266 randomly collected wild deer, 62 were found to have the fatal disease.
The disease has been detected now in 24 states. No state has been able to stop or eliminate CWD, but they have been able to slow its spread.
The goal for Arkansas Game and Fish is to reduce the overall deer density to slow the rate of the disease spreading in Arkansas. The agency also wants to reduce the chances of people moving the disease to a new area.
In order to accomplish this, commissioners voted on several new regulations which will have an impact on deer and elk hunting this year.
For the latest information on these regulations visit www.agfc.com. If you see a deer or elk you suspect of having CWD, call (800) 482-9262.