By John Culclasure, Central Appalachian States Manager
As of January 24, over 90 deer in Tennessee have tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The fatal disease in cervids was first detected in the state in December 2018, increasing the number of states with documented cases of CWD to 26.
CWD poses a major threat to hunting traditions and conservation in the United States.
In response to the confirmed cases of CWD in Fayette and Hardeman Counties, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency acted in December to enact its Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan. On December 20, the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission issued a number of regulations by proclamation aimed to contain the spread of the disease:
The High-Risk Area of the CMZ is currently relegated to the southwestern part of the state and includes the counties of Fayette, Hardeman, and McNairy Counties although more counties may be added if additional positive cases are confirmed. The CWD Response Plan also bans supplemental feeding – with exceptions – in these counties.
The detection of CWD in Tennessee prompted Kentucky to broaden its cervid carcass import ban in December. Virginia also now includes Tennessee in its list of carcass-restriction zones where carcass import rules applies. In October, North Carolina implemented new carcass import rules in a pro-active measure to prevent the spread of CWD.
CWD poses a major threat to hunting traditions and conservation funding, and combatting CWD is a priority for sportsmen’s organizations at the state and federal level.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?