Deer disease found in south Ark., baiting banned in 2 La. parishes
EL DORADO, Ark. (KNOE) - A disease fatal to deer has been found in a deer in Union County near the Arkansas-Louisiana state line.
According to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, chronic wasting disease was discovered in a deer 7.5 miles north of the border.
In response, the LWFC has announced an emergency ban on feeding and baiting deer in Morehouse and Union parishes due to their proximity to where the deer was found.
According to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the deer was harvested Thursday in the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge during the permit-based annual modern gun deer hunt. They say this is the first case of CWD in Union County.
In Arkansas, they said, “In keeping with the AGFC’s CWD Management and Response Plan, there will be no changes to deer-hunting regulations for the remainder of the 2021-22 deer hunting season.”
Both agencies are working together to track and curb the spread of this disease. You can read both news releases below.
Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission Dec. 2 News Release
Chronic wasting disease (CWD), which is fatal to deer, was detected in a 2.5 year-old female white-tailed deer in Union County, Arkansas, 7.5 miles north of the Louisiana-Arkansas border.
In response to this detection of CWD near the Louisiana border, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) voted to implement a declaration of emergency to ban feeding and baiting in nearby Morehouse and Union parishes beginning Dec. 6. To see the full declaration of emergency, go to https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/resources/category/commission-action-items.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) has also implemented its CWD Response Plan and will increase ongoing CWD surveillance in Morehouse and Union parishes due to their proximity to the CWD detection.
CWD is a neurodegenerative disease of white-tailed deer and other animals of the Cervidae family. It is currently present in 26 states and three Canadian provinces.
LDWF has been sampling for CWD since 2002. To date, more than 12,000 samples have been tested and CWD has not been detected in Louisiana.
CWD has never been shown to be contagious to humans, although the Centers for Disease Control recommends that humans not consume known CWD-positive animals, and that people hunting in CWD-endemic areas should have their deer tested for CWD prior to consumption.
Hunters harvesting deer in Union or Morehouse parishes are asked to either contact the LDWF Monroe Field Office at 318-343-4044 or nearest LDWF Field Office and take the heads of their harvested deer with six inches of neck still attached to allow LDWF biologists to pull tissue samples for CWD testing.
Hunters harvesting deer in other parishes of the state and want to have their deer tested for CWD should contact their local LDWF field office. For more information on CWD, visit https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/cwd.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Dec. 2 News Release
STRONG – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission today confirmed that a hunter-harvested white-tailed deer taken in Union County tested positive for chronic wasting disease.
The deer was harvested in Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge during the permit-based annual modern gun deer hunt. A CWD sample was collected at the check station for that hunt. That sample tested positive for CWD and was confirmed by the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Madison.
This is the first case of CWD in Union County. It is unknown where the source of this infection occurred, as it is more than 70 miles from the nearest previous positive case (Issaquena County, Mississippi) and more than 200 miles from the nearest known positive case of CWD in Arkansas.
According to AJ Riggs, wildlife health biologist for the AGFC, 307 CWD samples were submitted in Union County before this first positive case, with 107 of those being submitted since July 2021.
“While we didn’t want to find CWD outside of the current CWD Zone, this positive case confirms that we need to remain vigilant on a statewide level to look for the disease,” Riggs said.
According to Cory Gray, chief of the AGFC’s Research Division, the hunter who harvested the deer has been notified and arrangements are being made to dispose of the meat from the deer.
“With this positive case being so far from any previously known source, we’ve already begun working on ways to gather more samples from the surrounding area to determine the extent of the infection in this part of the state,” Gray said. “We have already begun making plans to place more CWD drop-off containers near the refuge for voluntary testing and are talking with local deer clubs and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to get help in gathering additional samples while deer season is still open. We’re also reaching out to our counterparts at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to coordinate with them and share data to get a better understanding of how far this may have spread.”
Felsenthal NWR Manager Michael Stroeh said, “We are working very closely with AGFC to provide any assistance needed.”
In keeping with the AGFC’s CWD Management and Response Plan, there will be no changes to deer-hunting regulations for the remainder of the 2021-22 deer hunting season.
AGFC Director Austin Booth says the agency will evaluate the need for any expansion of the CWD Management Zone and regulations concerning deer hunting during the hunting regulations-setting process once the season is over.
“We intend to hold public meetings about our findings at the conclusion of deer season, but the best way local hunters can help us is to take advantage of the free testing facilities and get their deer tested for CWD,” Booth said. “More samples means more chances to find any new concentrations of the disease and gives our staff a better picture of the landscape so they can make better-informed decisions moving forward.”
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