The dreaded Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) of white-tailed deer is drawing ever closer to Alabama, although so far it has never been detected within state borders.

Wildlife managers, hunters and those who love to see wildlife fear the deadly disease could wipe out the deer herd here, as in other states where epidemics have become intense.

According to the Alabama DCNR, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) recently received “suspect positive” CWD test results for two males collected by hunters in Tippah counties and of Alcorn, in northeastern Mississippi. These are the first positive detections for MDC in these counties. According to a press release from MDWFP, the samples will be sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for final confirmation.

These are the first suspected positive CWD cases in white-tailed deer within 25 miles of the Alabama state border. The Alabama Division of Freshwater Wildlife and Fisheries (WFF) has tested more than 11,000 deer since 2002.

As part of the WFF’s CWD surveillance and response strategic plan, CWD surveillance efforts were stepped up in Alabama after deer from Mississippi and Tennessee tested positive for the disease in 2018. This effort Increased surveillance continues, including collection of samples from deer slaughtered by hunters, road kill deer and diseased deer reported to WFF by the public.

Hunters are encouraged to use the self-service MDC sampling stations located throughout the state as part of the WFF MDC surveillance effort. For an up-to-date map with directions to MDC sampling stations and instructions on how to submit a sample, visit www.outdooralabama.com/cwd-sampling.

CWD is a neurodegenerative disease found in most species of deer, including moose, elk, mule deer, and white-tailed deer. It is contagious and still fatal. It is one of a group of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep. These diseases cause irreversible damage to brain tissue which results in salivation, neurological symptoms, emaciation and death of the animal.

Deer infected with CWD can transmit the disease to other deer even before symptoms appear. It may take one to two years for infected animals to become symptomatic. When symptoms do appear, they can include wasting, lethargy, and abnormal behavior. Other signs include excessive salivation, loss of appetite, gradual weight loss, excessive thirst and urination, and droopy head / ears.

Hunters and the general public are encouraged to watch for deer that appear sick, lethargic or unusually thin and to report their location to ADCNR.

The state has also banned the importation of whole carcasses or bony structures of cervid species into the state, although boneless meat is permitted. There have been several citations this year for hunters breaking this rule after hunts in other states.

Alabama deer season continues through February 10 across much of the state. The end of the season is considered the prime time to catch a buck by many expert hunters due to the late rut and the often cold weather, both of which encourage males to move around during the day.

You can find more information about MDC at www.outdooralabama.com/CWD-Info.

BASS names Lay Lake as part of 2021 High School Fishing Tour

BASS officials unveiled the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster High School Series Calendar 2021, which will give young fishermen the opportunity to compete in the same waters that have hosted the main sport fishing tournaments.

The Bassmaster High School series will feature four regular season events. The one-day tournaments will take place February 27 at Harris Chain of Lakes, May 2 at Cumberland Lake and June 26 at Lay Lake, site of four Bassmaster Classics. An event on June 12 will also take place on a northern fishery which will be announced shortly.

Due to the increasing popularity of the trails, the lot size will again be capped at 250 high school boats. Each high school event will also include a field of up to 50 boats for competitors ranging in grades two through eighth as part of the Mossy Oak Fishing Bassmaster Junior Series.

Online registration for the High School and Junior Series will open on January 12. For more information visit Bassmaster.com.


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