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Chronic Wasting Disease in Missouri

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Published on: Sep. 17, 2012

As part of MDC’s efforts to manage the prevalence and spread of CWD in Missouri, some regulation changes have been implemented.

Restriction on feeding

Activities such as feeding and placement of minerals/salts that artificially concentrate deer greatly increase the likelihood of disease transmission by concentrating animals at greater than natural densities and increases direct (nose-to-nose) and indirect (contaminated feed and environment) contact among individuals. Feeding and placement of minerals is not necessary to sustain healthy wildlife populations.

The Conservation Commission approved a regulation change in May 2012 that places a restriction on activities that are likely to unnaturally concentrate white-tailed deer and promote the spread of CWD. The ban on the placement of grain, salt products, minerals and other consumable natural or manufactured products is limited to the CWD Containment Zone comprised of Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph and Sullivan counties.

The regulation includes exceptions for backyard feeding of birds and other wildlife within 100 feet of any residence or occupied building, or if feed is placed in such a manner to reasonably exclude access by deer. The regulation also includes exceptions for normal agricultural, forest management, crop and wildlife food production practices. Farmers are encouraged to remove salt and minerals when cattle are not present to minimize use by deer.

Removal of antler-point restriction

The Conservation Commission approved a regulation change in May 2012 for a special harvest provision that rescinds the antler-point restriction (four-point rule) in the CWD Containment Zone composed of Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph and Sullivan counties. The repeal of the antler-point restriction is effective Sept. 15, 2012, the opening of archery season.

The reason for the regulation change is that management strategies, such as antler-point restrictions, protect yearling males and promote older bucks. Yearling and adult male deer have been found to exhibit CWD at much higher rates than yearling and adult females, so a reduction in the number of male deer can help limit the spread of CWD. The dispersal of yearling males from their natal or birth range in search of territory and mates is also one of the primary means of expanding the distribution of CWD. The antler-point restriction protects this age class. Therefore, we have removed the antler-point restriction to allow the harvest of yearling males. We are not advocating the removal of large numbers of young bucks, but we are recognizing their role in disease transmission

and are removing the antler-point restriction to at least give hunters the opportunity to take these individuals if they so choose.

Suspending permits for new deer breeders and new big-game hunting facilities

In August 2012, the Conservation Commission approved proposed amendments to suspend permits for new big-game hunting facilities and new wildlife breeding facilities in Missouri that hold white-tailed deer or mule deer. The action is part of MDC’s efforts to limit the spread of CWD. MDC is soliciting public comments before the proposed changes go into effect. To provide comments, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/18891.

The regulation changes to suspend the issuance of new permits does not apply to wildlife breeders and big-game hunting preserves with existing permits, or to wildlife-breeders or game ranches who wish to hold approved wildlife species other than white-tailed deer or mule deer. MDC permit records show there are 27 permitted big-game hunting preserves in Missouri with white-tailed deer, and 277 permitted wildlife breeders with white-tailed deer.

Help From Hunters

Cooperation from hunters has been critical in monitoring and ultimately detecting CWD in Missouri. This fall we will continue to monitor the distribution and prevalence of CWD in north-central Missouri. As part of this effort, we are asking hunters to voluntarily submit samples for testing during the archery and firearms seasons. Detailed information on sample collection locations can be found in the 2012 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet or online at mdc.mo.gov/node/3656.

Don’t remove carcasses from the CWD Containment Zone

MDC also encourages hunters who harvest deer within the CWD Containment Zone comprised of Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph, and Sullivan counties not to take whole deer carcasses or carcass parts out of the area where CWD has been found. Exceptions to this include:

  • Meat that is cut and wrapped.
  • Meat that has been boned out.
  • Quarters or other portions of meat with no part of the spinal column or head attached.
  • Hides or capes from which all excess tissue has been removed.
  • Antlers or antlers attached to skull plates or skulls cleaned of all muscle and brain tissue.
  • Upper canine teeth
  • Finished taxidermy products

The reason for this recommendation is that CWD can be transmitted from the environment to deer through soil and water that contain infected waste and/or infected carcasses. Deer can be infected with CWD but have no visible signs or symptoms. Moving harvested deer that still have parts known to concentrate CWD (brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen and lymph nodes) from the area known to have CWD can introduce the disease to other parts of the state.

Hunters should make every attempt to avoid moving the head and spinal cord from the CWD Containment Zone. Disposal of deer carcasses in a landfill is the preferred option. Double bag carcass parts, and take them directly to a landfill, or place them in trash cans for pick-up. Burying carcass waste is another acceptable option. Carcass waste should be buried deep enough to prevent scavengers from digging it up.

What Can the Public Do to Help?

People who observe or harvest sickly deer should contact their nearest MDC office or conservation agent (see Page 3). Hunters who harvest deer in the area where CWD has been found are encouraged to participate in MDC’s CWD sampling efforts in the area. s

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