BECKER – With bow season already in full swing and gun season a few weeks ago, more people will be taking to the woods for deer season. A lingering concern on many hunters’ minds carried over from last year is chronic wasting disease.
The prion disease affects the nervous systems of white-tailed deer, elk and mule deer, and it will be addressed Oct. 17 during a chronic wasting disease community meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Becker Community Center, located at 52245 Hwy. 25.
“They say this doesn’t transfer to other wildlife, but biologists are still researching to see if it’s transferable to coyotes and on to buzzards. They’re still doing research to see if it can transfer to humans. As of right now, it doesn’t,” said Randall Nevins of the Monroe County Extension Service.
Chronic wasting disease causes holes in deer brains from the long-term accumulation of fatal prions allowing nervous systems to not work properly, making symptoms show such as excessive salivation, lack of balance and a look as if a deer is wasting away due to lack of weight.
“If people see any deer out of character coming in their lawn or pasture, report it. A deer is normally going to run away from humans,” Nevins said.
Along with Nevins, John Grucchi, Dean Hudson and Jay Holman of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks will address the specifics of the subject, including chronic wasting disease zones, deer carcass transportation and baiting in Monroe County.
Last December, dozens of people attended a similar chronic wasting disease informative meeting in Aberdeen. Concerns such as warning signs of potentially sick deer, disease myths and if it’s safe to eat deer meat were addressed.
There is currently a supplemental feeding and carcass transportation ban in all chronic wasting disease management zones, including nearby Lee, Pontotoc and Union counties.
The first reported cases of the disease surfaced in Issaquena and Pontotoc counties last year.
According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, there were more than 20,000 samples taken statewide, with 19 positive cases as of March.
Most of the positive results were male deer, with the majority of cases reported in Benton and Marshall counties. Other counties with positive tests were Issaquena, Panola, Pontotoc and Tallahatchie.
Dr. Bronson Strickland, coordinator with the Mississippi State University deer lab and associate Extension wildlife management professor, will address chronic wasting disease Oct. 10 at noon through the simulcast Quick Bites program, which is available for viewing at the Monroe County Extension Service in Aberdeen.
People are advised to call 1-800-BE-SMART to report sick deer. The Monroe County Extension Service, which can offer guidance, can also be contacted at 369-8684.