Mineral sites, mineral blocks and salt licks have been added to the supplemental feeding ban in the six counties within the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) management zone, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks announced Wednesday.
In addition, no minerals can be added to existing sites.
The agency is working to remove any kind of feeding situation that could lead to concentrating deer around a feed site, which could spread the disease that is 100 percent fatal to deer. Supplemental feeding does not cause the disease, however, it can impact its spread through the population.
The six counties include Claiborne, Hinds, Issaquena, Sharkey, Warren and Yazoo, in their entirety. It is not limited to only those portions that are within the 25-mile CWD management circle.
In a related announcement, the Mississippi Department of Health is advising against eating venison from deer taken within the CWD Management Zone.
On Jan. 25, the MDWFP received notice of a mature 4½-year-old buck that had shown signs of disease and was found dead in a food plot near the Steel Bayou control structure in Issaquena County. The animal’s remains were collected and sent to a CWD testing facility in Iowa. On Feb. 9, the MDWFP received confirmation that the deer tested positive — the first confirmed incidence of CWD in Mississippi.
The agency implemented the first steps in its CWD Response Plan and ordered an immediate ban to supplemental feeding of deer in the six counties. The ban also impacted baiting wild hogs, in that grain was limited to being placed within the confines of the trap, ending the practice of spreading grain to lure hogs to the entrance of the trap.
MDWFP has spent the last week drafting its CWD Response Plan, which will be introduced at a public meeting tonight at 6:30 at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson.
Preliminary indications that it will include the agency harvesting deer within the three different management zones — the 5-mile containment zone, and the 10- and 25-mile circles — to test for CWD. Unfortunately, there is no live test for the disease; only dead deer can be examined.
“While there has never been a reported case of CWD in people, if it could spread to humans, it would likely come from eating an infected animal, like an infected deer,” state epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers said. “Since there is no test that can safely rule out CWD infection in processed meat, (the Mississippi State Department of Health) is recommending hunters consider not eating venison from deer harvested in an area with known CWD.”
Health officials are also advising hunters against shooting, handling or eating meat from a deer that appears sick. Hunters should wear rubber gloves when field dressing a deer and bone out the meat without sawing through bone. Hunters should also avoid cutting through the brain or backbone and wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing a deer.
If meat is taken to a processor, hunters are advised to request that the deer is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to it.
According to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance, CWD affects a deer’s nervous system. Once in the host’s body, prions transform normal cellular protein into an abnormal shape that accumulates until the cell ceases to function. Infected animals begin to lose weight, lose their appetite, and develop an insatiable thirst. They tend to stay away from herds, walk in patterns, carry their head low, salivate, and grind their teeth. CWD has a 100 percent fatality rate; deer that get it will die.
Anyone seeing a deer acting strangely and showing any of those symptoms should notify the MDWFP immediately at 1-800-Be-SMART.