CWD found in South Arkansas
Chronic Wasting Disease was confirmed on Dec. 2, 2021, in a white-tailed deer harvested in Union County at the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge during the area’s scheduled modern gun permit hunt in mid-November.
What is CWD?
Chronic wasting disease is a contagious, fatal neurological disease that affects members of the deer and elk family. This disease is caused by a misshapen protein, called a prion, that accumulates in the tissues of infected animals. These animals experience a long incubation period (often more than 12 months) during which they show no outward signs of disease, but are able to shed the CWD prion and infect other deer and elk. When clinical signs of disease start, infected animals may become thin, demonstrate unusual posture or behaviors, and eventually lose awareness of their surroundings. This clinical phase is typically short with a uniformly fatal outcome.
How is it Spread?
Infected animals shed the CWD prion in their urine, feces and saliva. Infectious prions also can be deposited from the carcasses and tissues of infected animals. CWD prions are highly stable and remain in the environment for years. They also can be taken up by plants from contaminated soil, making them more available to infect feeding deer and elk.
Is it Safe to Eat Deer With CWD?
Currently, there is no scientific evidence of CWD transmission to humans, pets or livestock under natural conditions. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommends having your deer or elk tested when hunting in areas where CWD is known to be present before eating the meat. Likewise, feeding domestic animals any meat from sick or diseased wildlife is not recommended. Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information about CWD.
How did it get to South Arkansas?
It is currently unknown where the source for CWD originated in South Arkansas. This case is more than 70 miles from the nearest known positive case (Issaquena County, Mississippi) and is more than 200 miles from the nearest known positive case in Arkansas (Scott County). The AGFC is trying to work with local hunters, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to conduct more sampling in the immediate area to determine the spread of this occurrence.
Where else has CWD been found in Arkansas?
As of Dec. 2, 2021, CWD has been confirmed in Benton, Boone, Carroll, Independence, Johnson, Logan, Madison, Marion, Newton, Pope, Scott, Searcy, Sebastian, Union and Washington counties
What can Hunters do to Help?
There will be no regulation changes concerning CWD for the remainder of the 2021-22 Arkansas deer hunting seasons, however there are many actions hunters can take voluntarily to help fight this serious disease.
- Get Your Deer Tested for CWD — Hunters should continue hunting, and increase their harvest if possible. Reducing the density of deer can help slow the spread within the local herd. Having all deer tested for CWD using the AGFC’s network of testing options also can help keep tabs on this new outbreak of the disease in Arkansas.
Union County Testing Drop-off Containers and Taxidermists
- Don’t Move the Carcass to New Areas — The most effective management tool for CWD is to prevent its spread. Avoiding the introduction of infected deer, either live or dead, as well as other potentially infectious materials prevents disease introduction through human activities. Hunters should limit moving any deer from an area known to have CWD to prevent its spread on the landscape.
- Keep Hunting — Reducing population densities in affected areas can help slow the natural spread of CWD.
- Don’t Bait or Offer Supplemental Feed — Activities that artificially congregate deer and elk can increase disease transmission and hinder other management efforts. While food plots and other tactics that mimic natural food sources are OK, it is highly recommended not to bait or offer supplemental feed using feeders. If baiting is necessary for hunting, the use of a feeder that broadcasts the grain across a large area is preferred.
- Report Sick or Dead Deer — Call the AGFC's radio room at 1-800-482-9262 with exact locations of any deer found in the wild displaying clinical signs of CWD.