Since the first confirmed case of chronic wasting disease in Mississippi was reported in February in a 4 1/2-year-old buck in Issaquena County, no other diseased animals have been found.
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks has sampled more 200 deer from the 25-mile, six-county containment zone that the agency killed and collected. All were sent to an Iowa lab for testing, and all have been returned as “not detected for CWD.”
MDWFP has also sent other deer, either road-kill or those reported as sick by landowners/hunters, and they have all been returned as negative for CWD.
The agency held its second public meeting in March at Vicksburg, with CWD experts from Colorado and Arkansas participated. The message there was clear: “be vigilant, don’t panic, don’t stop hunting.”
Amy Blaylock, the MDWFP’s wildlife bureau director, said the agency will continue to collect and test samples from the containment zone and urges the public throughout Mississippi to report deer showing signs of illness, especially: drooping head, excessive drooling, uncoordinated walking or excessive weight loss. Contact online at mdwfp.com/CWD or call 601-432-2400 or 1-800-BE SMART.
The agency also announced good news related to a CWD area of concern in south Mississippi. Seventy deer tested during the 2017-18 hunting season were all found to be negative for CWD.
According to MDWFP, the agency discovered a “non-permitted high-fenced enclosure” in 2013, southwest of Hattiesburg in Lamar County. An extensive investigation by MDWFP and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that animals within this enclosure had been transported from Texas facilities that were linked to CWD-positive animals.
In January 2017, a tornado struck the Hattiesburg area and damaged approximately 6,845 feet of the enclosure fence, releasing animals into the surrounding area.
MDWFP established a 5-mile radius surveillance zone around the enclosure in an effort to detect any CWD-positive animals. Hunters who harvested a deer within the zone were asked to voluntarily submit deer heads at local fire stations around the area. Seventy were submitted for testing, and all were returned “not detected for CWD”.
MDWFP plans to continue this sampling method for two additional years and requests that anyone who observes a deer with ear tags in this area immediately call 1-800-BESMART. In addition, deer exhibiting signs of infection should be immediately reported to MDWFP.