MDWF&P to host public meeting in Vicksburg to discuss fatal deer disease

Published 6:57 pm Monday, March 12, 2018

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks will host a public meeting Monday at the Vicksburg Convention Center to discuss its response plan to chronic wasting disease, a fatal infectious deer disease that has been confirmed in the state.

According to a MDWF&P press release, leading scientists and department employees will be on hand to discuss the plan in dealing with the deadly disease. The department first learned Feb. 9 that the disease had been confirmed in Issaquena County. It is the first time chronic wasting disease has been found in Mississippi.

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Officials say genetic testing showed that the infected white-tailed deer was local, meaning it was infected locally.

The deer was a four-year-old male that died of natural causes and was reported to the MDWF&P and collected on Jan. 25. As a result, supplemental feeding has been banned in Claiborne, Hinds, Issaquena, Sharkey, Warren and Yazoo counties.

Russ Walsh, executive director for wildlife in MDWF&P, said investigators still don’t know where the buck contracted CWD. The tests on 64 other deer carcasses collected in Mississippi didn’t show any signs of the fatal disease.

“We’ve sent off multiple other samples,” he said.

Mississippi banned import of dead deer carcasses from affected areas last year in hopes of keeping out the disease.

To avert or delay the infection’s spread across state lines, Louisiana has banned supplemental deer feeding in East Carroll, Madison and Tensas parishes — those nearest to Issaquena County, where the buck was found about 5 miles from the state line.

Hunters in those parishes cannot bait feral hog traps with rice bran, non-fermented or whole cracked corn, soybeans, protein pellets and commercial feeds formulated for deer because of the ban. They can still use bait not normally eaten by deer.

Alabama forbids importation of deer carcasses from any of the 25 states where the disease has been confirmed. Hunters can still bring in deboned meat, tanned hides, and cleaned skulls with antlers and teeth.

The disease was already present among deer in Arkansas and 23 other states.

Chronic wasting disease affects the brains of deer and related animals, such as elk, moose and reindeer. There is no known treatment or cure.

CWD was first documented among captive mule deer in Colorado in 1967.

The meeting at the VCC will begin at 6:30 p.m.