State officials have detected Chronic Wasting Disease in Texas’ WILD white deer population. It’s a scenario that Texas Parks and Wildlife has feared since the disease first emerged at a deer breeding ranch in Medina County.
The latest case of the disease was discovered this month by a Medina County rancher, who voluntarily submitted a 1 ½ year old buck killed during this past hunting season. Voluntary testing for the disease is part of the Texas Parks and Wildlife’s effort to monitor when and if the disease had spread from high fenced-in deer breeding facilities into the state’s estimated 3.6-million WILD white-tailed deer population.
Steve Lightfoot, with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says for now the agency has designated Medina County as well as portions of Bandara and Uvalde Counties as a containment zone until they can determine the prevalence of the disease in the wild.
“With a similar type of restrictions and rules on deer movement and carcass parts removal that we have in the Panhandle and Trans-Pecos region where we’ve got that disease discovered in that free-ranging deer population as well," Lightfoot explains.
According to the Texas Animal Health Commission, Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD is a transmittable disease that invades the animals brain and causes it to stop eating, ultimately resulting in death over time.
For now, Lightfoot says it is unclear how prevalent the disease has become among Texas’ wild or free-range white-tailed deer population.
“We don’t really have a clue about the prevalence right now. We’ve gathered about 720 hunter harvested deer and roadkill in that region from this past hunting season and some of those are still at the lab for testing," Lightfoot says.
Lightfoot says the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission will examine these findings as well as lay out more permanent rules regarding the movement of deer in the next few weeks.