Survey underway to gauge public opinion on disease’s impact
The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks is expected to propose deer hunting regulation changes Wednesday to its oversight Commission related to Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
The agency has also initiated an online deer hunter survey related to the disease to gauge the public’s attitude toward how CWD will impact their hunting in the 2018-19 season.
“The survey is aiding us in establishing baseline opinions from hunters on CWD,” Russ Walsh, Wildlife Bureau executive director, said. “It is not specifically for drafting regulations.”
Asked what regulation changes might be forthcoming, Walsh said the “proposed regulations for the 2018-2019 season are a supplemental feeding and carcass transportation ban in a specified area — most of the 25-mile buffer zone.”
Walsh said the agency is also drafting “a best management practice guide for hunters” that outlines recommendations for processing and carcass disposal.”
CWD, a 100-percent fatal disease thought to be limited to cervids — specifically elk, moose, white-tailed deer and mule deer — was first found in an Issaquena buck Mississippi found in January and verified by a test by an Iowa lab in February.
Mississippi is the 26th state to confirm CWD, and it created a stir, bordering on panic in the immediate South Delta area, earlier this year. However, with nearly 900 deer tested since in the six-county CWD zone and nearly 1,900 statewide, there have been no further positive test results.
The survey asks hunters about their awareness of CWD, and whether hunters/wildlife managers should be concerned about the disease. They are also asked if they hunt in the six counties in the CWD Management, and those that do are asked how they feel CWD could impact their hunting this year. Hunters who hunt outside the zone are also asked how their hunting will be impacted.
An earlier part of the survey involves supplemental feeding for deer, which is a CWD-related issue. Feeding can congregate deer in a tighter area, where the disease could conceivably be more readily spread from deer to deer. Hunters are asked if they support the use of supplemental feeding for white tail deer, and if they feel any change should be considered in current regulations pertaining to the feeding of wild animals.
Hunters are given space to add comments at the end.
No deadline for completing the online survey was provided, but the agency is asking that all hunters who participated in the 2017-18 season to answer the survey: “The accuracy of this survey depends on the responses from as many people as possible. Your information is valuable to our conservation efforts, and we look forward to hearing from you.”
The survey can be found here.