CWD forces some deer season changes

Mississippi’s 2020-21 deer season will see some big changes in areas impacted by chronic wasting disease, including the resumption of supplemental feeding in some areas, harvest of deer in excess of the state bag limits and the reclassification of CWD management zones.

The changes were approved by the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks at its May meeting. A basic part of the changes is how the previous CWD management zones will be managed.

The North Mississippi Zone and the Issaquena Zone will no longer be called CWD management zones, and instead will be referred to as surveillance zones, according to Russ Walsh, wildlife chief of staff for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. He said that within each surveillance zone will be management zones, four in total, that are much smaller in size.

New management zones

The boundaries of the surveillance zones are the same as the areas formerly classified as CWD management zones. The new management zones are as follows:

Zone 1: All portions of Benton, Marshall, Pontotoc, Tippah, and Union counties.

Zone 2: All portions of Panola County south of Mississippi Highway 315.

Zone 3: All portions of Leflore County north of U.S. Highway 82; and all portions of Tallahatchie County south of Mississippi Highway 32.

Zone 4: All portions of Warren County north of I-20 and west of U.S. Highway 61; and all portions of Sharkey and Issaquena counties west of U.S. 61 and south of Mississippi Highway 14 and Mississippi Highway 16, excluding lands west of the Mississippi River main channel.

The new management zones include lands surrounding areas where CWD-positive deer have been certified, and restrictions within those zones remain the same. Supplemental feeding, salt licks and mineral licks remain bagged in the four management zones.

Transporting deer parts

In other areas of the two surveillance zones that are outside the four management zones, hunters can resume supplemental feeding, along with the use of salt and mineral licks. However, there remain restrictions on the transportation of deer carcasses out of the surveillance zones. No deer parts can be transported from the surveillance zones — and that includes the management zones — except the following list:

  • Cut or wrapped meat;
  • 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).

Walsh said hunters within the four management zones may be able to harvest deer in excess of the limit by applying for tags under the Deer Management Assistance Program (DMap). He said hunters within a 3-mile radius of a known CWD-positive deer may apply for DMAP-CWD tags that will allow hunters to harvest both antlered and antherless deer during any open deer season with no weapon restriction. Hunters must apply for the tags and deer taken using a tag must be submitted for CWD testing. Tagged deer in this program will not count against a hunter’s bag limit.

Walsh said the DMAP-CWD tags are being created to reduce deer density in those areas to mitigate the spread of CWD.

Mississippi adds to CWD testing 

In an effort to improve on the 8,184 deer submitted for CWD testing in the past year, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks has established mandatory testing dates for all deer harvested on certain days in certain areas to give biologists a better understanding of the distribution of the disease.

  • Mandatory CWD sampling is required of all deer harvested .Nov. 21-22 in any county or portion thereof in the North Mississippi and Issaquena CWD surveillance zones.
  • Mandatory CWD sampling is required of all deer harvested .Jan. 2-3 in the following counties: Adams, Amite, Franklin, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lincoln, Pike, Walthall, and Wilkinson.
  • Mandatory CWD sampling is required of all deer harvested .Jan. 16-17 in the following counties: Covington, Forrest, George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Marion, Pearl River, Perry, Stone, and Wayne.

The MDWFP intends to add additional check stations in these areas to ease the burden on hunters. Details on the mandatory testing will be announced before the 2020-21 deer season.

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Bobby Cleveland
About Bobby Cleveland 1271 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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