With deer season upon us in Abilene and the Big Country, one question that's on every deer hunter's mind is "do we have Chronic Wasting Disease in West Texas?" If so, what can be done about it and how do you identify it?

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Two great questions to which I turned to my friends at the Texas Parks and Wildlife for the correct answers. The first question was easy, YES Chronic Wasting Disease aka CWD is in 'far' West Texas and other parts of the Lone Star State (Dallam, El Paso, Hartley, Hudspeth, Lubbock, Medina and Val Verde counties).

How Can One Identify a CWD Deer?

The most obvious way to identify Chronic Wasting Disease is if the animal in question is showing signs of serious weight loss (almost anorexic looking). If the deer are not herding and or interacting with each other, looking lost, no sense of their surroundings, loss of fear of humans. Diseased animals also exhibit excessive salivation. Source: WorldDeer.org

Is CWD Really a Disease?

Yes, it's a fatal neurological disease found in certain types of hooved animals, including deer, and other members in the deer family. CWD is a slow disease and may not show any visible signs for years. Now, it is important to remember that CWD causes holes in the animal’s brain, causing the animal to lose its ability to avoid danger, eat food, walk or function normally.

Is CWD spreading currently Into The Big Country?

No, the first disease detected in free-ranging deer was in the early 1980s and came from an endemic area in Colorado, Wyoming, to the Lake States, the Midwest, New Mexico, and central Canada.

Is CWD Controllable?

YES, clearly, CWD can be prevented by identifying and quarantining infected deer and keeping them away for the healthy deer population. By slowing down and stopping the movement of any infected deer into areas where CWD does not exist.

“The incubation period of CWD can span years creating disease detection and management challenges,” said Dr. Andy Schwartz, TAHC State Veterinarian. “Response staff are diligently working to address each herd affected by this new detection to manage further spread.”
Source: TPWD.Texas.Gov

What Can You Do To Help?

Stop and take notice of the animals all around you, and if you suspect something, always check first with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept. In short, the game wardens told me that we must all do our part to keep our wildlife healthy.

While there are no active outbreaks in the Big Country or West Texas of CWD, we can protect and keep our deer population healthy by reporting any suspected deer. Thus ensuring the future of hunting for generations to come.


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