MORRISTOWN---The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency will be setting up deer checking stations at several east Tennessee locations to obtain samples for Chronic Wasting Disease testing.
This Saturday, Nov. 9 marks the opening day of deer muzzleloader season in Tennessee. This is traditionally one of the most heavily hunted days and usually produces good harvest numbers.
The TWRA is targeting this date as well as the opening day of deer gun season on Nov. 23 in hopes of obtaining large numbers of samples for its statewide surveillance program to monitor Tennessee’s deer and elk populations for the presence of CWD.
Successful deer hunters will be asked to volunteer their deer’s head for testing and the appropriate tissues will be collected and submitted for testing to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Georgia.
CWD belongs to a class of neurological diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and is known to infect white-tailed deer, mule deer, and Rocky Mountain elk. CWD attacks the central nervous system and causes small holes to form in the brains of infected animals and is always fatal.
While CWD is similar to scrapie and mad cow disease in cattle, there is no known relationship between CWD and these and similar diseases between animals and people.
There is no evidence that humans can contract CWD by coming into contact with infected animals or by consuming the meat from infected animals.
The Center for Disease Control has conducted an exhaustive study of CWD and human health risk and has stated: “The risk of infection with the CWD agent among hunters is extremely small, if it exists at all.”
Additionally, there is no evidence that deer in Tennessee have CWD at this time. However, because we are still learning about this disease, TWRA recommends that hunters take precautions to limit risks, including the use of latex gloves when field dressing deer.