While the chronic wasting disease has not yet hit the ventilator, it has come dangerously close to those rotating blades.
This neurological disease that affects deer and other deer (elk, moose, and caribou as well) has spread to other states for decades and, although it has never been identified in Kentucky, has become a concern. growing as it arose in the surrounding states. Chronic wasting disease – please let’s call it CWD – is an unpleasant disorder that deer and other critter victims do not survive. It is not known to spread to and affect humans and / or other non-deer wildlife or domestic livestock, but it has the potential to damage or even devastate deer populations. In addition, there is the uncertainty that there may be evils in CWD that we do not yet realize.
What has happened in recent days is that a deer collected in Henry County, Tennessee, just 8 miles south of the Kentucky-Tennessee border, has tested positive for CWD. An adult white-tailed deer showed up, looking slender and scruffy, exhibiting strange behavior. His appearance was typical of an animal with CWD, and several tests confirmed this.
The proximity of a CWD positive deer to our Commonwealth has set off a wake-up call to managers at the Kentucky Department of Fisheries and Wildlife. The Tennessee report, in fact, triggered a response plan that has been in the works for almost 20 years. Our managers feared but, indeed, planned to face such an undesirable event.
While there is still no known incidence of CWD in Kentucky, the fact that it was diagnosed in a deer just 8 miles from the border south of Murray realistically means that it could be here. Tennessee has had several CWD positive animals in the past, but these had been clustered primarily in the southwestern part of the state. The Henry County case represented a great leap north. A much smaller expansion would put him among us.
One aspect of the CWD readiness plan is that the KDFWR would institute more stringent measures to monitor and regulate the deer harvest if and when a deer roams free within 15 miles of the Kentucky borders. was identified as CWD positive. Henry County deer, Tenn., Touches that red alert button.
The incident triggers the establishment of a MDC surveillance zone that now encompasses Calloway, Graves, Marshall, Fulton and Hickman counties in Kentucky. A sick deer source radius encompasses parts of the five counties, but the simplicity of the regulations dictate that every county is included in the surveillance zone.
When it comes to deer hunting, here’s what it means to be in the area:
Deer baiting and the feeding of wildlife in general is immediately prohibited. (And these measures are in effect now, enacted immediately as emergency measures.) The ban also covers common habits of land managers and deer hunters such as mineral supplements and salt blocks for deer. . The placement of anything they eat is prohibited. The layout is designed to prevent unnatural concentrations of deer and close snout-to-snout contact that could potentially allow the spread of CWD, if present.
It is prohibited to export whole harvested deer carcasses or parts containing deer brains and / or spines out of the Area. For example, you can’t pick up a deer in Marshall County, drop it in the back of your truck, and bring it back to McCracken County.
That’s not to say that someone from outside the Five County area can’t go there and hunt, even take a deer there. The options are that a deer captured in the CWD surveillance area can be transported within the area, perhaps transported to a meat processor elsewhere in one of these five counties.
Another alternative for the handyman is to treat a deer before it leaves the area. That is, the regulations allow the export of boneless meat and clean skull plates (the means of recovering antlers from the frames) to locations outside the area. The crux of this rule is that the skeletal structure, including spinal material and the brain (things most closely related to the spread of CWD) cannot be removed from the area.
Additionally, most gun seasons in the MDC surveillance zone will require successful hunters to bring their slaughtered deer to designated checkpoints to be tested for the potential presence of MDC. Mandatory deer exams in the Five County area will be in effect during the modern firearms season of November, the youth firearms season of October and the muzzleloading seasons of October. and December.
Hunters should study the development details listed on the KDFWR website, www.fw.ky.gov. KDFWR officials have tested deer (and, in the east, elk) for CWD since 2002. Some 32,000 animals have been tested, and no Kentucky creatures have yet been found to carry the disease.
They tried to keep this invisible barbarian outside the gates by preventing the importation of whole animals from other states from which CWD could be imported. The review has been extensive.
But the Henry County, Tenn., Deer test positive casts a looming shadow across our southern border.
Savvy wildlife managers and deer hunters may be hopeful that this day would not come. But it is. We have not yet moved from combating CWD to managing it, but we are close.