Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD has grave, detrimental impacts on deer, elk and moose populations in North America.
It is a relatively rare yet progressive, degenerative disease that attacks the nervous system, and is always fatal.
The Centers for Disease Control so far confirmed CWD in at least two dozen different states and two Canadian provinces.
And worse yet, it continues to spread with no known cure.
It is the responsibility of state fish and wildlife agencies to monitor wildlife and both create and implement management plans to try to slow its spread.
And the number-one tool they utilize to do so is hunting.
Wildlife managers establish CWD management zones and then ask hunters to become informed and abide by adjusted rules and regulations including specific quotas, sex and age of species, and times of year designed to slow the spread of the disease.
Once in the field, hunters are also asked to be vigilant by observing and reporting any suspect behavior by ungulates, taking precautions while field dressing harvested animals and properly disposing of carcasses and meats of infected species.
Surveillance and active management via hunting are crucial with actions varying from state to state.
Here are a few examples.
CWD turned up in Wyoming in 1985 where its prevalence and cost increased ever since.
According to a media outlet, Wyoming Game and Fish employees worked more than 11,500 hours over a recent 10-month span at a cost of $650,000 to monitor the disease. And hunting is at the core of on-the-ground management efforts.
First detected in 2012, Pennsylvania’s CWD response draft plan combats the disease by featuring increased hunting opportunity within three disease management areas covering more than 8,000 square miles.
CWD is relatively new to Tennessee given its confirmation there in 2018.
One Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency official said –quote– “We need hunters to harvest animals because that’s going to be one of the biggest ways were going to be able to control this disease and contain it.”
When it comes to safeguarding, conserving and ensuring the current and future health of our wildlife populations, and taking the actions necessary to do so, it is abundantly clear that Hunting Is Conservation.