JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Leaders with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) are advising hunters to help limit Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) cases in the state during the 2022-2023 deer hunting seasons.
CWD is a 100% fatal, transmissible, neurogenerative disease. One challenge of detecting the disease is that until deer enter the last stages of CWD, they often appear completely healthy.
According to MDWFP, there have been 127 confirmed CWD positive cases and 19 suspected positive cases in the state since February 2018.
William McKinley, a deer program coordinator with MDWFP, said the disease is transmitted through deer by their saliva, feces, urine, or contaminated environment.
“Because the disease transmits so easily, we urge hunters and wildlife managers to lower deer density and eliminate practices that encourage deer to congregate,” said McKinley.
Hunter participation in efforts to control CWD includes submitting harvested deer for testing, harvesting younger bucks, and discontinuing the use of supplemental feeding and baiting to help keep deer from congregating.
McKinley said hunters have harvested older bucks for years, letting young bucks mature and grow larger antlers.
“As a hunter for years, I realize that it’s kind of difficult to detect these diseases in a deer, as deer tend to look normal,” said Perri McNeil, a local hunter. “I just advise all of us hunters to be on the lookout especially when hunting to eat.”
MDWFP allows more deer to be harvested in CWD zones and forbids supplemental feeding in these areas.
The next important step is for hunters to leave the heads of harvested deer at one of the state’s 63 drop-off sites. Agency officials collect the heads weekly, test them for CWD and provide the results at no cost to the hunters. MDWFP also works with more than 60 participating taxidermists statewide to collect samples for CWD testing.