Alabama Continues Monitoring for Chronic Wasting Disease

State wildlife officials want hunters and landowners to know
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in deer has not occurred in Alabama
and they hope to keep it that way. The Alabama Department of
Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) Division of Wildlife and
Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) is taking several measures to help
prevent the disease from reaching the state.

Diagnostics to confirm the presence of CWD require collecting
the skull and neck vertebra from adult age class hunter harvested
white-tailed deer. WFF staff work with local clubs and deer
processors to collect the necessary samples for CWD monitoring. A
minimum of 300 samples have been collected annually statewide for
the past 10 years. WFF staff expect to complete this hunting
season’s collection and monitoring by Christmas. Collected samples
are sent to the State Department of Agriculture diagnostic labs for
testing and analysis. WFF appreciates all of those that cooperated
to obtain the samples.

CWD is a fatal disease affecting the central nervous system of
deer and elk. It belongs to a family of diseases known as
transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). The disease
attacks the brains of infected deer and elk and causes animals to
become emaciated (skinny), display abnormal behavior, lose bodily
functions and die. It has been found in captive and/or wild cervids
(members of the deer family) in 18 states and two Canadian
provinces.

Alabama is recognized as a leader in minimizing disease risks by
preventing the importation of deer. Alabama has had a regulation
banning the importation of all cervids into Alabama since 1973.
Convictions for violating the importation ban carry a fine of
$1,000-5,000 and up to 30 days in jail. Many other states have
since implemented some form of this regulation to reduce their risk
of introducing CWD.

Many Alabamians hunt outside the state and bring their harvested
animals back with them. WFF requests that these hunters take the
following precautions before bringing any harvested cervids from
CWD endemic areas into the state:

• Remove the bones and package the meat; avoid cutting into the
spinal cord or removing the head; also avoid quartering the carcass
with any of the spinal column or head attached.

• Do not bring the brain, intact skull, or spinal cord back into
the state.

• If you wish to take the antlers attached to the skull plate,
thoroughly scrape and clean tissue from the skull plate using a
knife or brush and bleach. Thoroughly clean all utensils afterward
with bleach.

• If you are hunting in an endemic area, have the animal tested for
CWD in the state in which it was harvested.

• Finished taxidermy products, including head mounts, are not known
to pose a risk.

The ADCNR needs your support to maintain Alabama’s CWD-free
status. You can assist the WFF with its CWD monitoring program by
reporting any transport of live deer or elk on Alabama’s roads and
highways. Call the Operation Game Watch line immediately at
1-800-272-4263 if you see live deer or elk being transported in
Alabama. Contacting the Division immediately makes it more likely
the deer or elk will be intercepted before it can be released. You
should also call this number if you see a deer that exhibits
clinical signs of CWD. Personnel will contact you to obtain
additional information.

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
promotes wise stewardship, management and enjoyment of Alabama’s
natural resources through five divisions: Marine Police, Marine
Resources, State Lands, State Parks, and Wildlife and Freshwater
Fisheries. To learn more about ADCNR, visit
www.outdooralabama.com.

 

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