More Counties Added to Chronic Wasting Disease Zone

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The discovery of more whitetail deer likely infected with Chronic Wasting Disease deer is expected to add more West Tennessee counties to the official CWD Management Zone. As of Jan. 22 a total of 91 deer have tested positive for CWD with additional test results still pending. (Photo: Richard Simms)

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced the total number of deer testing positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) has climbed to 91 in Fayette and Hardeman counties. Three additional deer, if confirmed by secondary testing, will expand the CWD Zone to include a total of seven West Tennessee counties.

Two of the deer receiving secondary testing are from Hardeman and Fayette counties and if confirmed, would bring Chester and Shelby counties into the CWD Management Zone due to the proximity to those counties. The remaining deer is from Madison County, and if confirmed, the location of that deer would add Madison and Haywood County to the zone.

TN Counties added to CWD Zone
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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.

Although Madison, Chester, Shelby, and Haywood counties are currently outside TWRA’s CWD Management Zone, CWD Coordinator Chuck Yoest, does not anticipate any changes to hunting regulations there for the remainder of the current 2018-19 deer hunting season.

“Changing the regulations now would be premature as we are getting new information daily,” Yoest said. “Once all the results have come back from our recent CWD sampling efforts, and all positive deer have been mapped, we will then develop a long term management plan including changes to hunting regulations.

“I imagine some people perceive the increased total of positives and the potential of expansion of the zone as an indication the disease is rapidly growing,” Yoest continued. “It is instead due to TWRA’s swift and focused sampling efforts in the affected area and being transparent and timely about the results as they are received.”

TWRA, with assistance from hunters, has collected more than 2,000 samples in the CWD Management Zone and surrounding counties since CWD was first detected on Dec. 14 in Fayette and Hardeman counties. The Agency is still awaiting results on approximately 800 samples, and anticipates collecting a couple hundred more samples during the last week of the extended hunting season in the CWD Management Zone.

For more information on CWD visit the website here.

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