Chronic Wasting Disease found in Missouri
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been spotted throughout in greater quantities throughout Missouri, complicating the 2021 Missouri deer season. The Missouri Department of Conservation set up check-in stations where hunters can bring their deer to be tested for the disease.
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, chronic wasting disease is a prion disease that causes brain damage in deer and causes them to slowly lose bodily function. CWD is present in deer populations all over the world and was first discovered in the United States in Colorado in 1967. Since then, it has slowly crept across the country, not being discovered in Missouri until 2010.
The Missouri Department of Conservation recorded over 90,000 deer collected within the first weekend of the season. Out of these thousands of samples, a little over a hundred were confirmed to have CWD.
According to the CDC, chronic wasting disease can be transmitted to other wildlife, but there has been no recorded transmission of CWD between a deer and a human. The CDC recommends not eating the meat of deer who have contracted the disease.
The presence of CWD in Missouri has raised the concerns of many local hunter and conservation enthusiasts.
“The Conservation Department had us check our bucks to see if they were sick. Everyone who wanted to harvest the meat had to let the agents take their lymph nodes to get analyzed. You can’t do this if you want to get the deer mounted since it ruins the pelt to check for the disease,” Jamie Vanstavern said.
Despite these new worries, many new hunters are still being drawn toward the sport. According to the Missouri Conservation Department, over 15,000 deer were harvested during youth season alone.
“It’s my first year hunting and I got an eight pointer on opening day. I learned a lot and the experience of checking in the dear was pretty interesting. I plan on hunting again next year,” Austin Sellers said.
Hunters are also concerned with the spreading of COVID-19 in the deer population. Deer have been tested for COVID-19 and many have tested positive for the virus.
“Its terrible that we have to worry about COVID-19 even when we are out in the woods. Apparently they say it’s still safe to hunt so hopefully it’s ok,” Mark Allen said.
According to the CDC’s website there is currently no evidence that you can get COVID-19 by preparing or eating food, including wild hunted game meat in the United States. They still recommend that hunters take necessary precautions around wildlife and keep domestic animals and wild animals separated.
The results of the deer harvested this season will not be posted till 2022, but it is believed that the disease affected less deer than originally speculated. This hopefully means that CWD will be less prevalent in Missouri for next years season.