CWD Update: Hunters submit nearly 500 samples after rifle season opener

Published 10:02 am Monday, November 27, 2023

JACKSON — Rifle season is here and hunters have already made a strong effort to submit more samples for Chronic Wasting Disease surveillance. Chronic Wasting Disease is a 100 percent, always fatal disease caused by an infectious prion in deer and other members of the cervidae family. 

Since the opening day of the September Velvet hunting season, hunters have submitted 1,403 samples for testing and four positives have been detected. Since November 15, hunters have turned in 504 samples for CWD testing. Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks sends these samples to the Mississippi State University Veterinary and Diagnostics Lab in Pearl to be tested.

Chronic Wasting Disease prions are shed into the environment in the bodily fluids of infected deer. Healthy deer can become infected by indirect contact with these prions in the soil or direct contact with an infected deer. Prions persist in the environment for a long period of time long after a CWD infected deer dies. 

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Deer do not show symptoms of CWD until the later stages of the disease which could be 12 to 18 months after they become infected which is why it is important for deer to be tested. The Center for Disease Control reports there are no CWD cases in humans from eating positive deer meat but it doesn’t mean the disease can’t spread to humans. It is best to avoid eating meat of a CWD positive deer.

CWD samples can be dropped off at self serve coolers around the state or participating taxidermists. The closest drop-off cooler to Lincoln County is in Hazlehurst at the Mississippi State Extension Service Office there. Lincoln County’s participating taxidermists are Brent Opdyke, Allen Morgan and George Wilson and their information can be found on the MDWFP CWD page. 

Game Check

Hunters have reported 1,247 deer harvests on GameCheck. Data collected from GameCheck is used by MDWFP biologists to better manage the deer herd on a local level. Hunters are encouraged to report their deer harvest on the MDWFP website or mobile phone app to help manage the deer herd. Adams County leads the state in deer harvest reports with 58.

Help local food banks

Mississippi has a program called Hunter’s Harvest where Deer hunters are able to donate deer meat through participating processors to the Mississippi Food Network. In a year where the MDWFP encourages hunters to utilize their deer tags there is no better time to donate a deer to those in need.

Lincoln County’s participating processors include Diamond J, Boyd and Knight’s Deer Processors. Donated deer meat to those processors could end up feeding someone in the community.