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:
- Establishment of a Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone (CMZ) and delineation of Core Area, High Risk Area, and Buffer Area for the CMZ;
- Creation of a new deer hunting season (archery, muzzleloader, and gun) to increase harvest numbers for increased testing in the CMZ that will run from January 7 to January 31;
- Mandatory checking of deer for testing at physical stations for all deer harvested on weekends in the High-Risk Areas of the CMZ; and
- Carcass export ban instituted for the High-Risk Areas of the CMZ.
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.
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