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Officials in Missouri plan to hold several informational meetings around the state in an effort to collaborate with the public about the growing concern of chronic wasting disease in deer. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann spoke with officials in the bi-state area and has this report.
Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is a disease that affects white-tailed deer, elk and moose. Animals with the disease exhibit symptoms such as lack of fear to humans, excessive drooling, drooping ears, lack of coordination, rough coat and are generally emaciated.
Jason Sumner is a resource scientist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. He says some ways the public can help reduce the spread of the disease is by reporting sick animals to the department, and by properly disposing of deer carcasses.
“Movement of deboned animals and those kinds of things, just the meat, is appropriate. But in terms of what to do with the carcass such as burying on site where it was killed, or sending it a municipal landfill, are successful ways of sequestering the tissue,” Sumner says.
Sumners says the disease spreads between deer through nose to nose contact, saliva, feces and infected tissue. Missouri has 11 captive and 10 free-range deer that have tested positive for the disease.
“The distribution is pretty limited, although it’s indicated in most other states over time it slowly progress and expands its range of distribution. So we’re really concerned. The white-tailed deer is $1.1 billion industry in Missouri; it supports more than 12,000 jobs. And so there’s certainly the long-term potential for this disease to significantly impact deer numbers across landscape,” says Sumner.
Although Missouri does not restrict hunters from importing whole deer carcasses into the state, Sumner says it is a discouraged practice. He adds that hunters who do so must report those carcasses to the department, and take carcasses directly to processing centers.
Arkansas, on the other hand, completely restricts the transport of outside whole deer into the state. Cory Gray is the deer program coordinator for Arkansas Game and Fish Commision.
“Our carcass importation regulation says that you can only bring back de-boned meat, hides, clean teeth, clean skulls, skull plates with antlers attached. You can bring those items back into Arkansas, but you cannot bring intact carcasses,” says Gray.
Gray says that Arkansas currently does not have any known cases of CWD, but they continue to test on a regular basis. Gray adds that many states have become closed states. He urges hunters to check for the appropriate local restrictions when traveling across borders.
“We have for many years been a closed state as far as live deer to be moved in. But we also have a carcass importation regulation and that restricts the movement of intact, whole, complete deer carcasses into Arkansas. And Missouri is one of those states that we restrict. We restrict all states now outside of Arkansas,” Gray says.
The first of several meetings in Missouri to discuss CWD took place last night in Macon County. The meeting in Springfield takes place October 9th at the Conservation Nature Center. You can find links to meeting schedules and more information about CWD below.
For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.
Click here for schedule of Missouri Department of Conservation's meetings about CWD
Click here for Arkansas Game and Fish Commission
Click here for nationwide state-to-state regulations about CWD