Im­port reg­u­la­tions help keep Ge­or­gia CWD-free

Chronic wast­ing dis­ease a threat to lo­cal deer

The Covington News - - AGRICULTURE & OUTDOORS -

SO­CIAL CIR­CLE — Pro­hibit­ing chronic wast­ing dis­ease from en­ter­ing Ge­or­gia is a con­tin­u­ous ef­fort.

This fa­tal dis­ease at­tacks the ner­vous sys­tem of cervids (e.g. deer, elk and moose) and to date has been de­tected in 14 U.S. states and two Cana­dian prov­inces. With big game hunt­ing sea­sons un­der­way across much of the na­tion, the Ge­or­gia De­part­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources, Wildlife Re­sources Di­vi­sion ad­vises res­i­dent hunters plan­ning outof-state hunt­ing trips to be­come familiar with Ge­or­gia’s cur­rent reg­u­la­tions re­gard­ing cervid im­por­ta­tion.

“The po­ten­tial in­tro­duc­tion of CWD poses a se­ri­ous threat to Ge­or­gia’s valu­able white-tailed deer re­source,” ex­plains As­sis­tant Chief of Game Man­age­ment John Bow­ers. “We en­cour­age hunters to be knowl­edge­able of cur­rent reg­u­la­tions pro­hibit­ing the im­por­ta­tion of live cervids and re­strict­ing im­por­ta­tion of cer­tain cervid car­cass parts har­vested from known CWD-in­fected states.”

CWD is a highly con­ta­gious neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­ease af­fect­ing deer, elk and moose. In­fected an­i­mals de­velop a char­ac­ter­is­tic spongy de­gen­er­a­tion of the brain, which re­sults in ex­treme weight loss, ab­nor­mal be­hav­ior, loss of bod­ily func­tions and even­tu­ally, death. CWD be­longs to a group of dis­eases known as trans­mis­si­ble spongi­form en­cephalopathies — the same group of dis­eases af­fect­ing some do­mes­tic an­i­mals, in­clud­ing bovine spongi­form en­cephalopa­thy or “mad cow dis­ease.” Cur­rently, there is no ev­i­dence that CWD poses a risk for hu­mans.

Though sci­en­tific in­ves­ti­ga­tions are on­go­ing, cur­rent re­search sug­gests that the agent re­spon­si­ble for the dis­ease may be spread both di­rectly (an­i­mal to an­i­mal con­tact) and in­di­rectly (soil or other sur­face to an­i­mal).

Be­cause the move­ment of live an­i­mals is ev­i­denced as one of the great­est risk fac­tors as­so­ci­ated with the spread of CWD into new ar­eas, res­i­dent hunters trav­el­ing abroad should note the fol­low­ing:

• Im­por­ta­tion of any live cervid is pro­hib­ited.

• Im­por­ta­tion of any whole cervid car­cass or car­cass parts from any state with a doc­u­mented CWD case is pro­hib­ited ex­cept: boned-out meat; com­mer­cially pro­cessed meat; meat with no part of the spinal col­umn or head at­tached; clean skull plates with antlers at­tached; clean antlers; fin­ished taxi­dermy heads; and clean up­per ca­nines (bu­glers, whistlers, ivories)

The 14 states and two Cana­dian prov­inces where CWD has been de­tected are Colorado, Illi­nois, Kansas, Min­nesota, Mon­tana, Ne­braska, New Mex­ico, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, West Vir­ginia, Wis­con­sin, Wy­oming and the Cana­dian prov­inces of Saskatchewan and Al­berta.

Since 1998, WRD has been test­ing sus­pect and hunter-har­vested deer for ev­i­dence of CWD. To date, more than 3,000 deer have been tested with no con­firmed pos­i­tives. The near­est state to Ge­or­gia with a con­firmed case of CWD is West Vir­ginia. Ge­or­gia hunters should be aware of the im­por­tant role they play in the col­lec­tive ef­fort to help min­i­mize the po­ten­tial in­tro­duc­tion of CWD into Ge­or­gia’s high-qual­ity deer herd. Please help pro­tect your state and re­source by re­port­ing the il­le­gal im­por­ta­tion of any deer species.

WRD has a new brochure on CWD that of­fers help­ful in­for­ma­tion for sports­men and women, meat pro­ces­sors and taxi­der­mists and can be down­loaded from the WRD Web site, www.go­hunt­ge­or­gia.com.

Any hunter who ob­serves or har­vests a deer in state that ex­hibits CWD symp­toms should im­me­di­ately call the lo­cal re­gional WRD of­fice, lo­cal con­ser­va­tion ranger or con­tact Hunter Ser­vices at (770) 761-3045.

For more in­for­ma­tion about CWD in Ge­or­gia and abroad, or for gen­eral in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing deer hunt­ing in Ge­or­gia, visit www.go­hunt­ge­or­gia.com or call (770) 918-6416.

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