Earlier this year, Tennessee Wildlife Federation organized a two-day summit about Chronic Wasting Disease to begin creating a strategy for the National Wildlife Federation and its affiliates to combat the disease. The summit drew more than 30 leading conservationists from across the U.S.
Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, was discovered 50 years ago in Colorado. It easily infects deer, elk, and other cervids and causes weight loss, tremors, repetitive walking patterns, and eventually death.
Recent research shows the deer population in an area of Wyoming is shrinking by 10 percent every year because of CWD. In one portion of southern Wisconsin, half of the deer are believed to have the disease. The disease also appears to impact older bucks more than young bucks, and all bucks more than does.
It is not thought to be transmittable to humans, but it is recommended that venison from a CWD-positive deer be disposed of and not consumed.
The disease is now in 23 states including Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Arkansas.
It threatens our ability as a nation to conserve all species, habitats, and natural resources.
CWD isn’t in Tennessee and the Federation’s focused goal is to do everything to keep it out. Tennessee Wildlife Federation sees a single, coordinated, nationwide response as the only way to stop its spread.
“So far, efforts to stop CWD have been managed by individual states. But it’s a national issue that requires a national response,” said Michael Butler, CEO of Tennessee Wildlife Federation.
The summit created goals including funding more research, launching an education campaign, and cooperating across state lines. A steering committee was formed to keep these goals on track.
After the summit, one of the participants—Dr. John Fischer of University of Georgia’s Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study—spoke to the Tennessee Legislative Sportsmen’s Caucus. He talked about CWD and the impact it could have on Tennessee if not controlled.
“It’s important to understand the true impact of CWD. It isn’t just an issue facing deer and deer hunters. It threatens our ability as a nation to conserve all species, habitats, and natural resources,” said Michael.