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CWD Histeria

This article cracked me up after I read it. The first thing asked about low hunter and harvest numbers in Montana from the fall of 2019 was if it was due to CWD. I commend the Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks officials for not knee-jerking their conclusion and comment on what the cause of the low numbers was.

Weather and other factors have probably played a role in hunter harvest numbers this year due to the early winter we’ve had across the region. But…CWD is the hot topic right now, much the same as it was almost 20 years ago, so that is what people assume.

Severe winter weather, wildlife-vehicle collisions, and a host of other reasons contribute exponentially to more big game deaths than the confirmed CWD cases can come close to. This isn’t to say that CWD shouldn’t be monitored, but there is SO MUCH we don’t know about disease transmission and whether or not carriers of the disease always exhibit signs or if some animals are carriers but are immune to the symptoms similar to the way humans can be carriers of certain diseases but the diseases never manifest themselves in their bodies.

The point is we all need to take a deep breath and look at the facts of CWD, not the fodder that is being propagated right now. I’ve seen this “episode” before and I’m not particularly enjoying this recent re-run. 

For more information on CWD, check out our article in EHJ i175 (Oct/Nov 2019 issue). You will find the facts and a discussion on the history of this disease.

About Brandon Mason

Brandon Mason

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6 comments

  1. Recent info from CDC and some biologist suggest there is the POSSIBILITY that CWD could be transferable to humans. In fact they have transferred the disease to some monkeys and pigs. It is all up in the air of course and as they say…we won’t know till it hits and then it will be too late. Of course(!) this concerns me because my first reason for hunting is edible consumption. Doubtful it will prevent me from hunting but if I do hunt areas where the disease is prevalent I would be very careful…on second thought, it is doubtful I would hunt those areas because I am just not willing to take the chance. I don’t think anyone is doing enough to solve it.

  2. I am going to disagree and ad to the hysteria. My family and neighbors collectively hunt a solid block of thousands of acres of Private in SW Wisconsin. Hunting pressure is a non issue. The Whitetail hunting was about as good as it gets. It was no problem is kill a 160 class deer, and one or two legit 170 class bucks would get killed in our group annually. Every few years someone would get something special around the 180 class. We would age all of our trophy bucks and 4,5,6 years of age was common with several 7 or 8 year olds. Fast forward to today. No one in our group has attempted to pull the trigger on a trophy buck in THREE YEARS! We have shot several cull bucks and they have all tested positive for CWD !!!! All that tested positive were 3.5 years old. The quantity of deer is still the same. Big population of deer and we manage the doe numbers. Over the past three years we have tested approx 75 does and they were all negative. Our conclusion is there is 100% higher infection rate in bucks. Bucks are not living past three years old. Visibly on camera in and in stand show the population of total deer is the same and increases if does are not managed. There is A LOT of FAKE NEWS surrounding CWD. #1 the deer do NOT get skinny, foam at the mouth and walk in circles. They die fat and healthy looking. We find the bodies. We have never seen a sick looking deer. Even the bucks that tested positive. #2 Overall population of deer will not decrease. Does still get bred, but the age class of mature bucks will disappear. All your bucks will be dinks as there is no age classes left. #3 The hunting community is trying to wish away CWD. CWD is here.
    Prions are spreading. Time to act and invest in a cure. Old age bucks, bulls, and moose will fade away. Unless a cure is found CWD could very well be the end of quality hunting. I beg eastmans to change their stance and push for research!!!!

    • There are some interesting stats in Wisconsin for sure. Wisconsin’s first detection of CWD was in 2002. Since then the state has implemented a decent effort to study and test local deer through out each county within the state. Seasons for trophy class bucks come and go and unless the specific area is doing substantial work to protect older mature deer, those numbers will not sustain consistently for long periods of time. There are several factors that could have a negative impact on the buck to doe ratio. According to state statics the yearling buck percentage has been on the decline since 2016. That means that for what ever reason, the buck reproduction rate has been dropping. There site also shows an increase of of deer population in the state of 400,000 in the past 5 years. This means the doe population is out sourcing the buck population and the state needs to implement a better program for doe harvest and control. Another factor to consider in this short time-frame you have outlined is the horrible winter of 2013. Recovery from harsh winters can take several years to begin seeing improvements in deer quality. Those harsh winters will do a lot to effect a deer population in a negative way. Wisconsin has also seen an impact from EHD (Epizootic hemorrhagic disease.) The last outbreak in the state was in 2012 where 427 deer were confirmed to have carried the disease. Controlling habitat, population, and implementing better deer management programs are extremely important in keeping quality deer herds in any region. I don’t think the hysteria of CWD should be the monster under the bed that keeps us tied down from enjoying the great outdoors and continuing our family hunting traditions. In the west and upper Midwest, CWD has been around 20 – 30 years. The deer have not disappeared. Each year, several quality bucks are hunted and harvested throughout each of the western states. The average home that lives off of deer consumption has more than likely consumed venison in which the animal was infected with CWD. Especially those of us that have grown up on in the West where they say it all began. No person has yet to be infected with any form of Chronic Wasting Disease. As we learn more, we’ll know more, but for now. Get out there and hunt and enjoy the outdoors, because this CWD hysteria could have a negative impact on our hunting traditions if we leave it up to the politicians in Washington.

    • I have hunted MT for the last 45 years. I did not this year because of CWD. As a scientist I believe the risk of spread to humans is real.

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