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Hartselle Enquirer
A. Ray Lee ss

Chronic Wasting Disease hits Alabama 

By A. Ray Lee  

Columnist 

As the season comes to a close, hunters and conservationists are dealing with disturbing news that could influence the nature of Alabama deer hunting in the future. Chronic Wasting Disease, first detected in Colorado, has slowly migrated south. Thirteen counties in Mississippi and nine in Tennessee have reported at least one case. This season, the first confirmed case in Alabama was discovered just to our west, in Lauderdale County. 

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries recent gathered with interested parties in Florence to discuss the situation.  

Hunters were encouraged to attend. I have failed to find a report of the results of the meeting; however, special regulations were issued for hunters in the area where the CWD was found for the remainder of the season.   

CWD is a contagious neurological disease that affects white-tail and other deer species. Symptoms of the disease include behavior changes, abnormal body functions, loss of body weight and, finally, death. Life expectancy for an infected animal is a few months from the disease’s onset. There is no known cure.  

The Centers for Disease Control reports there is no strong evidence the disease is transferable to those who harvest an infected animal or inadvertently eat the meat of one. 

Much is yet to be learned about what, if any, affect this might have on the future of deer hunting in Alabama. When CWD is detected in a given area, strong measures are usually taken to remove any infected animal and deal with practices that might increase the possibility of its spread.   

Deer have expanded in large numbers over the entire state, which complicates the eradication of CWD. Methods of hunting have evolved as the number of deer and hunters have increased.  

When I first started hunting, I silently stalked through the woods, studying the habits of undisturbed deer. Blending in with the environment around me, I occasionally took a nice buck.  

Modern practices, on the other hand, rely upon game plots and feeding stations to draw deer to the hunter. This practice greatly increases the chances of one sick animal contaminating an area where deer gather in number.  

Deer can catch CWD from these areas of contamination without actually coming in contact with an infected deer. 

Every hunter should be knowledgeable about the steps being taken to control and contain the spread of the disease. For more information, one can Google the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.     

 

 

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