Wildlife officials in Alabama urge hunters to be aware of the chronic wasting disease epidemic which affected many states.
Fortunately, no case has been reported in Alabama, and that is why officials are concerned that hunters might accidentally introduce the disease in the state’s forest. Also, many of them prefer to hunt in the North where white-tailed deer grow larger than the ones in the South.
The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in Alabama has updated the regulations which ban any hunter from returning with any deer carcass harvested in other areas. Although they might seem too strict for some people, these laws aim to prevent the chronic wasting disease (CWD) from devastating the Alabama deer herds.
This disease has decimated the white-tailed deer population across the United States because it is highly contagious. Also, it cannot be treated, so the only way to prevent it from spreading is to kill the infected specimens.
Larry Durham, a 51-year-old hunter from Jackson County, was charged on the 6th of November with violating the Alabama chronic wasting disease ban because he returned home with a buck taken down in Illinois, a state where the CWD prevalence is high.
The authorities have confiscated the carcass and sent it to a lab at Auburn University where it will be tested for chronic wasting disease. This condition attacks the deer’s central nervous system.
Common symptoms include teeth grinding, excessive urination, thirst, appetite loss, excessive salivation, weight loss, pneumonia, and listlessness. Also, hunters can sometimes detect CWD-infected deer because they hold their heads in a lowered position with their ears dropped.
Although this disease has never been transmitted to humans, hunters must always be vigilant. It is worth mentioning that healthy deer usually contract the bacteria from the saliva of another specimen.
In other words, if just one deer is infected and it grazes with its herd, all of them can contract the virus. CWD is concentrated in West Virginia, Illinois, Minnesota, the Rocky Mountain area, and in Alberta. Hunters can find the CWD map on the ADCNR website.
Minor outbreaks have been detected in several other states too. Chronic wasting disease cannot be eradicated if it’s introduced in an environment. Also, it affects not just white-tailed deer but also mule deer, moose, and elk.
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