Chronic Wasting Disease is a transmissible neurological disease of deer and elk that produces small lesions in brains of infected animals. It is characterized by loss of body condition, behavioral abnormalities and death. CWD is classified as a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE), and is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep.

Although CWD is a contagious fatal disease among deer and elk, research suggests that humans, cattle and other domestic livestock are resistant to natural transmission. While the possibility of human infection remains a concern, it is important to note there have been no verified cases of humans contracting CWD.

Texas Parks & Wildlife biologists say the TB surveillance program has offered hunters an opportunity to provide valuable tissue test samples that could lead to the continued protection of the state's deer and elk population. They say the testing requirements are in direct response to a bill passed by the 83rd Texas Legislature, a law targeting animal diseases that threaten deer populations in Texas.

All mule deer and elk harvested within the CWD Containment Zone, which covers portions of Hudspeth, Culberson, and El Paso counties, are required to be submitted for testing at mandatory hunter check stations within 24 hours of harvest. Hunters who harvest deer in the Containment Zone outside the general season under the authority of MLDP (Managed Lands Deer Permits) will need to call TPWD at (512) 221-8491 the day the deer is harvested to make arrangements to have the deer sampled for CWD and TB.

Outside the containment zone, voluntary sampling of harvested deer is being encouraged. For information about the participation in voluntary testing programs, hunters and the general public are encouraged to contact TPWD officers or wildlife biologists in their county.

The special meeting in Hudspeth County will be held Thursday, December 19 at 7 p.m. Mountain Time at the courthouse in Sierra Blanca to discuss this expanded surveillance effort with landowners and other interested parties.


Also of interest:

New Mexico elk deaths explained

Concerns over Chronic Wasting Disease in cervids prompts rule change

Definitive deer study targets rural property owners