Commission nixes CWD management changes

At its monthly meeting in July, the Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, reversed its decision on changes it made in May and confirmed in June to the agency’s CWD Management Plan.

Gone is the controversial creation of CWD surveillance zones.

The key reason for massive opposition was a reduction in the size of CWD Management Zones where supplemental feeding is not allowed.

Quoting a lack of support from hunters, and objections from biologists and conservation groups, including the Quality Deer Management Association and Mississippi State University Deer Lab, the Commission reversed its decision and returned the CWD Management Zones to the same boundaries and regulations used during the 2019-20 season.

That means 19 counties in the North Mississippi CWD Management Zone and three in the Issaquena CWD Management Zone will remain under last year’s regulations for the 2020-2021 deer season. The proposal would have shrunk those zones and created CWD surveillance zones for the other parts of the existing zones.

The proposed change would have allowed supplemental feeding within 10 miles of a verified CWD case instead of 25, which is the problem most deer professionals had with the surveillance zones.

That drew red flags immediately.

Broad opposition

According to Russ Walsh, chief of staff for the wildlife side of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, the opposition was very broad. He said it included a good mix of individuals and organizations, and the number of comments was well beyond what the agency receives from regulation changes. He said the response was overwhelming in a desire “to leave the zones as is.”

Creating the surveillance zones would have allowed supplemental feeding — as most people correctly call it, baiting — from those areas, which would have started 10 miles from a confirmed CWD deer discovery and ended 25 miles from that spot. CWD Management Zones would have included only those areas that are 10 miles from a confirmed CWD case, and feeding would have been banned in that area only.

CWD management Zones

Boundaries and 2020-21 regulations

North MS Management Zone:

  • Includes Alcorn, Benton, Carroll, Desoto, Grenada, Lafayette, Leflore, Lee, Marshall, Panola, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Quitman, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tate, Tippah, Union, and Yalobusha counties

Issaquena Management Zone:

  • All portions of Warren County
  • All portions of Issaquena and Sharkey counties defined as:
  • All areas east of the Mississippi River
  • All areas south of Highways 14 and 16
  • Areas west of the Yazoo River

Regulations

Carcasses may not be transported outside of any CWD Management Zone. Research has shown that decomposed carcasses of infected animals can also contribute to transmission when prions bind to soil and plant material. Thus, movement of carcasses may introduce CWD into previously uninfected areas. Any harvested deer may be taken directly to a taxidermist or meat processor within the CWD Management Zone. Only the below products may leave the zone:

  • Cut/wrapped meat (commercially or privately)
  • Deboned meat
  • Hides with no head attached
  • Finished taxidermy
  • Antlers with no tissue attached
  • Cleaned skull plates (no brain tissue)
  • Cleaned skulls (no lymphoid or brain tissue)

Supplemental feeding — salt licks, mineral licks,and feeders — is banned in all CWD Management Zones. Direct contact with prions is the most effective means of transmitting CWD. Research indicates saliva may have the highest concentration of prions. Thus, to minimize concentration of deer and potential spread of CWD, supplemental feeding is banned within all CWD Management Zones.

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Bobby Cleveland
About Bobby Cleveland 1291 Articles
Bobby Cleveland has covered sports in Mississippi for over 40 years. A native of Hattiesburg and graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Cleveland lives on Ross Barnett Reservoir near Jackson with his wife Pam.

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