CWD Update: Louisiana awaits DNA results, Mississippi collecting samples from Velvet Season
Published 3:44 pm Wednesday, September 28, 2022
BATON ROUGE — Louisiana discovered its first case of Chronic Wasting Disease on Jan. 28 in an adult buck harvested in Tensas Parish. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Deer Program Director Johnathan Bordelon said they await the results of a DNA test from the buck from a lab at Texas A&M University.
He added there is a continued incentive campaign for CWD samples this deer season in addition to new rules to try and contain the disease.
A DNA test would give the LDWF a better understanding of the deer’s background. Bordelon had said the DNA test would indicate if the positive buck was a native to the area or if it was from a northern lineage, possibly indicative of a pen escape.
LDWF would like to remind the public that parts of Tensas, Madison and Franklin Parish are in a CWD management zone and there is a supplemental feeding ban to mitigate any spread of CWD. Due to this, hunters who travel to the parishes would have to apply for a permit to transport any deer out to be taxidermied in another part of the state. These permits can be applied for online through the LDWF.
CWD is a disease that is always fatal to deer and can not currently be eradicated. Tensas Parish’s buck made Louisiana the 28th state to discover the disease, now occurring in 29 states. It is a neurological disease found in cervids caused by a prion, a misfolded protein, that is spread through feces, bodily fluids and environmental contamination by an infected animal. LDWF began putting an action plan together to combat CWD had it ever been found in the state soon after it was first discovered in Colorado in pen raised elk. One of the best practices in fighting the disease is to keep prevalence rates within a population low and to collect samples to understand where and how severe the disease is in the deer herd. Hunter harvest is the best way the LDWF can collect samples.
Bordelon said this summer that hunters in Tensas, Franklin and Madison Parishes have been great at submitting samples throughout the last few years. Hunters across the state are needed to help detect the disease as Mississippi, Texas and Arkansas all have CWD cases. A hunter will be entered into a drawing for a $1,000 gift card for CWD samples. All they have to do is harvest an adult buck deer in Louisiana and contact their local LDWF field office to arrange testing. Concordia Parish is in the Lafayette Field Office district and you would have to call 337-735-8667.
These deer must be legally harvested during the 2022-2023 season and hunters must provide GPS coordinates of the harvest location. Taxidermists are eligible to enter a separate competition to win a $500 gift card by collecting a sample of an Louisiana harvested deer and contacting the local field office.
Additionally, the LDWF is providing CWD drop-off locations within the Franklin, Madison and Tensas parishes CWD Control Area for deer hunters to submit samples for testing.
Hunters wishing to submit deer heads to have them tested for CWD can visit these locations, submit samples and view results using the sample number obtained at the drop-off location. The locations are self-service and hunters will be able to place deer heads in freezers provided. Instructions as well as sampling bags and hunter information cards are provided at the locations.
CWD Control Area Drop-off Locations that will be available for the 2022-23 season include:
- Tensas Parish Sheriff’s Resource Center – 8554 Hwy. 65 Waterproof 71375 – 91.392237, 31.810463
- Buck Fever Taxidermy – 3083 Hwy. 65 Newellton 71357 – 91.255584, 32.071990
- Big Lake WMA – North of Louisiana Hwy. 4, 12 miles east of Gilbert 71336 – 91.487169, 32.160109
- Buckhorn WMA – 3217 Hwy. 128 St. Joseph 71366 – 91.3669, 32.020688
- Tallulah U-Pak-It – 120 Hwy. 65 South Tallulah 71282 – 91.199977, 32.396619
- Wisner Location – 387 Kansas St. Wisner 71378 – 91.655033, 31.970490
A map of these locations is available on the LDWF website at https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/assets/Hunting/Deer/Files/CWD-Control-Area-Drop-Off-Locations.pdf.
CWD in Mississippi
According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Chronic Wasting Disease Portal, 236 samples have been submitted by hunters in Mississippi from the September Velvet Season. This is 80.5 percent of the 293 deer reported harvested from the opening weekend.
Samples are reported online as they are picked up from the CWD freezer locations and participating taxidermists across Mississippi. Last year, Mississippi hunters submitted 7,085 samples.
Hunter harvests are the biggest source of Chronic Wasting Disease samples to help state agencies manage and maintain surveillance of the disease. Bow season opens up Oct. 1 and hunters are encouraged to help the MDWFP maintain CWD surveillance.
The best practice for managing CWD is to keep the prevalence of the disease low so it does not spread further or harm the state’s deer herd. Since 2018, 127 deer have been confirmed positive for CWD in Mississippi which is about .405 percent prevalence in the population.