“This is not a crisis, but it is a significant development. We have had an active CWD surveillance program in place for more than a decade and have tested a large number of deer since 2002. Under terms of the containment zone, we will continue to monitor deer movement, work with property owners in identifying and testing suspect animals and will establish wildlife checkpoints throughout hunting season in an effort to monitor CWD within the area,” said Dr. Andy Schwartz.

The mandatory hunter checkpoints will evaluate deer prior to movement outside the containment zone and may require testing of suspect animals. Voluntary checkpoints will be established in a secondary or high risk zone. Wolf says TPWD also will work with local and state law enforcement officials to collect and test road kill animals.

“In the last stages of the disease, animals are known to become disorientated and often will end up running into traffic, so between road kill testing and hunter inspections, we hope to get a better idea on the movement of the disease and how well it has adapted to animals within the zone,” he added.

In addition to mule deer, Schwartz says white-tail deer, sika, red deer, elk and moose are at risk from the disease.  The TAHC regulates cervid species not indigenous to Texas such as elk, red deer, and sika deer, and oversees a voluntary CWD herd monitoring status program with the intent to facilitate trade and marketability for interested cervid producers in Texas.

Cervid herds under either TPWD or TAHC authority may participate in the commission's monitored CWD program. The basis of the program is that enrolled cervid producers must provide an annual herd inventory, and ensure that all mortalities during the previous year were tested for CWD and the disease was not detected.

The disease was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado. CWD has also been documented in captive and/or free-ranging deer in 19 states and 2 Canadian provinces, including neighboring New Mexico.

"We know that elk in southern New Mexico are also infected with CWD," said Dr. Schwartz. "It will take a cooperative effort between hunters, the cervid industry, and state/federal animal health and wildlife agencies to ensure we keep this disease confined to southern New Mexico and far West Texas.”

Schwartz says he is confident the plans of the CWD task force will be able to protect the cervid industry in Texas.