TWRA expands Chronic Wasting Disease Zone, again

TWRA has now positively identified 168 cases of CWD-infected whitetail deer in three West Tennessee counties. However there are an additional 276 samples pending. (Photo: Richard Simms)

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has expanded the Chronic Wasting Disease Zone in West Tennessee yet again. Initially when CWD was first detected the zone included three counties. It has now been expanded to include eight counties.

CWD is a contagious and a fatal neurological disorder that affects members of the deer family known scientifically as cervids which, in Tennessee, include deer and elk. Currently, 26 other states and three Canadian provinces have documented the presence of CWD. It is transmitted through animal-to-animal contact, animal contact with a contaminated environment, and with contaminated feed or water sources. While CWD is considered 100 percent fatal once contracted, it is not known to harm humans or livestock.

A special season for Tennessee hunters to harvest additional deer was open in the CWD Zone until Jan. 31, 2019. TWRA says it sampled more than 2,700 deer for the disease in the zone with the assistance of hunters.

“Thanks to the cooperation of hunters and efforts by Agency staff, we exceeded our sampling goals for the CWD Management Zone,” said Chuck Yoest, CWD Coordinator. “The information gathered from these efforts is critical to developing a successful long-term CWD management plan.”

The CWD Management Zone, established in December, now includes Chester, Fayette, Hardeman, Haywood, Madison, McNairy, Shelby, and Tipton. Tipton County was just added this week upon confirmation of a CWD positive deer harvested near its border in the adjacent Fayette County.

Statewide, TWRA was able to obtain samples from almost 5,400 deer during the 2018-19 deer hunting seasons. All CWD positives found were in Fayette, Hardeman, and Madison counties.

It will take until later in February for all the results from the samples to be received by the TWRA. Once the results are received and analyzed, final development of the long-term CWD management plan will be completed.

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