Louisiana confirms first known case of CWD

Louisiana wildlife officials have confirmed that a bull killed by a poacher on private land in Tensas has tested positive for chronic wasting disease this week, making it the state’s first known case of degenerative brain disease. In response, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries announced a ban on deer feeding and carcass export in the parishes of Tensas, Franklin, and Madison. The emergency order went into effect on February 4.

Although CWD can be present in deer that appear perfectly healthy, the antelope in question was noticeably “weak” at harvest time, according to an LDWF press release. The condition indicates advanced CWD, thus making the whitetail a “high value sample” in the state’s current CWD monitoring efforts. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, tested the sample and confirmed the suspected case.

“This is what we feared,” the association’s secretary, Jacques Montos, said in a press release. “We will count on the diligence of our hunters, property owners, deer handlers and taxidermists to monitor and help control the spread of CWD.”

The news was disappointing but not surprising for state officials, who ramped up CWD surveillance in northeastern Louisiana after three deer were recently tested positive in two adjacent Mississippi counties. The first case was found in 2018 in Issaquena County, while two other cases appeared in Warren County this past hunting season. Warren County and the Parish of Tensas are located along Davis Island.

Although some Louisiana shooting seasons remain open through mid-February, deer season ended in January in parishes under an emergency order. Current emergency restrictions imposed on the three parishes include a ban on the export of high-risk deer parts, including most bones and untreated taxidermy. Approved for transportation of boneless, shredded and rolled meats, heads and clean skins.

Read next: If chronic wasting disease is a killer, why not find CWD-killed deer in the woods?

Meanwhile, all supplemental feeding of deer, including with salt and mineral licks, has been banned in Tensas, Franklin and Madison counties to reduce exposure risks among deer concentrated at feeding sites. An unattractive bait for deer is still allowed to hunt stray pigs as long as they are inside the trap itself. Hunters in Louisiana who wish to submit deer for testing can find more details here.

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