The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) will be hosting an information meeting regarding Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and how having a confirmed case in Virginia will affect hunting and other activities in the region. The meeting will be held on May 12, at Gainesboro Elementary School, 4651 North Frederick Pike, Winchester, Virginia from 7-9 p.m. Wildlife biologists and conservation police officers will be on hand to discuss the agency’s CWD Response Plan and actions that may be taken.
VDGIF received laboratory results from CWD samples collected through the 2009-2010 hunting season, and found one confirmed case of CWD. Since 2002, nearly 5,000 samples have been collected in Virginia, and CWD has been detected in only one deer.
The CWD-positive deer was killed by a hunter on November 14, 2009, in western Frederick County and was one of more than 200 hunter-killed and vehicle-killed deer in the Active Surveillance Area tested this year for CWD. The Active Surveillance Area consisted of parts of western Frederick and Shenandoah Counties. VDGIF biologists have focused CWD surveillance in this area since 2005, when a deer with the disease was found in Hampshire County, West Virginia, within 10 miles of the Virginia state line. Deer with CWD have been found in that area of West Virginia every year since then.
CWD has been detected in 18 states and two Canadian provinces. CWD is a slow, progressive neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer, elk, and moose in North America. The disease ultimately results in death of the animal. Symptoms exhibited by CWD-infected deer include, staggering, abnormal posture, lowered head, drooling, acting confused, and marked weight loss. There is no evidence that CWD can be naturally transmitted to humans, livestock, or pets.
Guided by the CWD Response Plan, a CWD Response Team composed of staff from VDGIF and other state and federal agencies considered a range of potential measures to manage CWD in the area. Recommended management actions, endorsed by the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries on April 20, 2010, and effective immediately, include:
- Delineation of a CWD Containment Area (CA) in western Frederick and Shenandoah counties, including the City of Winchester.
- Mandatory disease testing of deer harvested by hunters in the Containment Area on November 13, 20, and 27, 2010, at seven designated sampling stations.
- Prohibition of deer feeding year-round in Clark, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren counties, and in the City of Winchester.
- Prohibit movement of deer carcasses and parts out of the Containment Area, with exceptions for certain parts allowed under the carcass importation law (e.g., quarters), and for parts going to meat processors, taxidermists, or landfills in Frederick or Shenandoah counties.
- Require meat processors, taxidermists, road-kill pickup crews, and waste management service contractors to dispose of all deer wastes from the Containment Area in a lined landfill in Frederick or Shenandoah counties.
- Prohibit rehabilitation and release of deer that originate from within the Containment Area and require that deer rehabilitated elsewhere in Frederick or Shenandoah counties not be released outside the county of origin.
- As a proactive measure to prevent spread of CWD, reduce the deer population in Clark, Frederick, Shenandoah, and Warren counties and in the City of Winchester by increasing the daily bag limit to two deer, activating an Earn-A-Buck requirement, and establishing all muzzleloader seasons as full-season either-sex.
The full text of recommended management actions can be found on the VDGIF website at www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/diseases/cwd/, along with other information about CWD.
Anyone who sees a sick deer that displays any of the signs described above should contact the nearest VDGIF office immediately with accurate location information. Please do not attempt to disturb or kill the deer before contacting the VDGIF.