Due to the regular amending of regulations in Mississippi, it is recommended that before hunting you check these CWD regulations, as well as those of any other states or provinces in which you will be hunting or traveling through while transporting cervid carcasses. The contact information for Mississippi can be seen below:
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1. Issaquena County
JACKSON – A white-tailed deer collected on January 25, 2018, in Issaquena County has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The deer was a 4.5-year-old male that died of natural causes and was reported to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
This is the first time an animal in Mississippi has tested positive for the disease, which is fatal to white-tailed deer. MDWFP will immediately implement the CWD Response Plan under the auspices of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks.
Pursuant to the Order of the Executive Director on behalf of the Commission, effectively immediately, supplemental feeding is banned in the following counties: Claiborne, Hinds, Issaquena, Sharkey, Warren, and Yazoo.
CWD was first documented among captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967, and has been confirmed in 24 states, three Canadian provinces, and two foreign countries. It has been found in the free-ranging herds in 22 states and among captive cervids in 16 states.
According to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, CWD affects only cervids (hoofed animals in the cervidae family such as deer, elk, and moose). CWD affects the body’s nervous system. Once in the host’s body, prions transform normal cellular protein into an abnormal shape that accumulates until the cell ceases to function. Infected animals begin to lose weight, lose their appetite, and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to stay away from herds, walk in patterns, carry their head low, salivate, and grind their teeth.
For more information regarding CWD in Mississippi, visit our website at www.mdwfp.com or call us at (601) 432-2199. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mdwfp or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MDWFPonline.
Reports were solid on big bucks, smaller bucks and doe, and Mississippi still ranks as one of the states with the largest population per capita in the United States.
But what about diseases such as chronic wasting disease and blue tongue?
“Healthwise, we are in good shape,” said Larry Castle, chief of wildlife for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. “We are monitoring CWD, and we have not found any nor do we expect to find any CWD in our deer herd. We have a good sample coverage across the state, and we are on top of monitoring the disease.
“We do have a lot of blue tongue disease, but that is nothing new or anything to be alarmed about.”
Chronic wasting disease is related to mad cow disease, and there is no cure. It’s a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). It’s caused by a little-understood protein known as prion, which sets off a chain reaction in brain tissue, causing some of the brain’s own proteins to change into an aberrant form. It’s ultimately fatal to infected animals. Diseased animals will show changes in their normal behavior, exhibit excessive weight loss, salivation, stumbling and tremors. Cervids, which are members of the deer family and consist of whitetail deer, elk and red deer, are susceptible. Experts say there is no scientific evidence that CWD can infect humans, but the World Health Organization advises people not to eat any part of a deer with the infection.
Bluetongue is an insect-borne, viral disease primarily of sheep, occasionally goats and deer. The disease is not contagious and is transmitted only by insect vectors. Humans are not infected.
The disease is characterized by fever, widespread hemorrhages of the oral and nasal tissue, excessive salivation, and nasal discharge. In acute cases, the lips and tongue become swollen, and this swelling may extend below the lower jaw. Lameness, due to swelling of the cuticle above the hoofs, and emaciation, due to reduced feed consumption because of painful inflamed mouths, may also be symptoms of this disease. The blue tongue that gives the disease its name occurs only in a small number of cases.
“I want to stress that we have not found any CWD in Mississippi,” Castle said. “Blue tongue has taken some of our deer and that causes us to see fewer deer. A lot of things are blamed when we see fewer deer when it could be habitat.”
Regardless, Castle said the herd in Mississippi still ranges between 1.5 million and 1.7 million. He expects that Mississippi hunters will kill 300,000 deer on a 1-to-1 ratio between bucks and doe. The average age of bucks in Mississippi is still around three years.
“Deer quality was good this year,” Castle said. “Deer numbers may be average, though. I’ve talked with some hunters who say they had the best year yet. Then some will tell me that is was their worst year. I think when the numbers are in, we’ll be somewhere in the middle.
“We are nowhere near being out of deer. Sure, there are places where deer observations were down, and that could be due to habitat. The state of the union is in good shape, and when you look at the whole state, our deer herd is in good shape.”
Growing concern over a fatal brain disease in deer reported in some Western states has lawmakers and wildlife officials cooperating to postpone – if not block entirely – its spread into Mississippi.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) creates sponge-like holes in the deer’s brain, causing the animal to grow thin, act abnormal and die.
There’s no scientific evidence the disease, currently incurable, can infect humans.
In 2002, Mississippi imposed a brief moratorium on the importation and intrastate movement of all deer and elk within state borders.
The Legislature is now moving to enact a ban on bringing white tailed deer and a moratorium on bringing elk, mule deer and similar animals that are considered susceptible to CWD into the state.
Bills passed last week in the Senate also authorize wildlife officials to conduct intensive testing of dead animals found on public and private lands. The bills now go to the House.
“The legislation gives us a better handle on preventing the disease from coming to the Southeast,” said Larry Castle, a wildlife biologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
Castle said Mississippi has many landowners who have fenced off areas and stocked them with deer purchased out of state. He said wildlife officials want that to stop while testing for CWD goes on.
He said CWD may take years to reach Mississippi.
“But it could be here tomorrow in the back of trailer. It is a very wise proposition for us to stop it,” Castle said.
In the past 10 years, chronic wasting disease has been found in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Wisconsin and in Canada.
To combat the disease, many states follow a policy of shooting any deer, even apparently healthy ones, that may have come into contact with a sick animal.
Senate Wildlife Committee Chairman Lynn Posey, D-Union Church, said lawmakers want wildlife officials to have a tough law on the books to attack CWD before it gets to Mississippi.
“A lot of these other states have gotten behind the eight ball and now they’re having to try to do things to prevent the spread. Our aim is to get ahead of the game,” Posey said.
Castle said killing off a herd when one of the deer is found with CWD is the best science known today. He said there is no test currently approved to detect the disease in live animals.
“We’ve got the luxury of being able to see what the other states – who have had the disease now for some 20-odd years – have done correctly and incorrectly,” Castle said.
DWFP began last year educating its wildlife personnel on what to watch for in potential CWD-carrying deer. Castle said the department is also relying on hunters to report any sick deer.
He said not all sick deer could have CWD because it mimics other sicknesses common to such animals.
“People are going to see sick deer all the time. We don’t want them to get alarmed just because they see a sick deer,” he said.
Nevertheless, Castle said all dead animals need to be tested.
“We’re also encouraging hunters and landowners to avoid practices that could potentially escalate the spread of the disease – like supplemental feeding or mineral licks that bring about an unnatural concentrating of deer,” Castle said.
Posey said CWD is highly contagious among the deer and elk populations.
“We’re trying to react on the front end of this thing and protect our native game animals from something being brought in here that has already been infected and then spreads the disease,” he said.
Castle said the testing begun last year and through the hunting season this year should give biologists a good idea whether CWD has shown up in Mississippi