Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, is a neurological disease in deer, elk, moose and other members of the deer family, known as “cervids,” a report by the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife says.
The disease was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado and has since been documented in captive and free-ranging deer in states and two Canadian provinces.
The first case of the disease in Texas was discovered in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer in an isolated area of far West Texas.
The first case of CWD in Texas white-tailed deer was found in a Medina County deer-breeding facility in 2015 as a result of routine disease monitoring, the department said.
Increased testing requirements resulted in the detection of CWD in four additional deer breeding facilities and two release sites adjacent to the CWD-positive deer breeding facilities.
CWD was also detected in a free-ranging white tailed deer in Medina County in 2017.
This disease presents numerous challenges for state wildlife agencies across North America.
Of concern is the potential for decline within deer, elk, or other susceptible cervid populations.
In addition, CWD could have indirect impacts on hunting and economic benefits derived from big game hunting.
In Texas, hunting is a $2.2 billion economic engine, supporting many rural towns across the state.
Because eradication is thought to be impossible once CWD becomes established in a population, it is imperative that a sound disease-management program be established to reduce how severe the ramifications of the disease are.
Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Animal Health Commission have developed a cooperative CWD management plan to guide both agencies in addressing risks, developing management strategies and protecting big game resources from the disease in captive or free-ranging cervid populations.
The plan includes mandatory CWD testing requirements for hunters who harvest mule deer, white tailed deer, elk, red deer, or other CWD susceptible species within the Trans-Pecos, Panhandle, and South-Central Texas CWD Containment and Surveillance Zones.
A portion of the South-Central zone extends into Bandera from Uvalde and Medina counties.
Hunters in the three zones are required to bring downed animals to a TPWD check station within 48 hours of harvest.
TPWD urges voluntary sampling of hunter-harvested deer outside of the CWD zones.
Hunters interested in providing voluntary samples can contact their local TPWD biologist or bring their animals to any of the check stations located around the state.
Check stations in the South-Central Zone are in Hondo at 1701 19th St. near the Life Check Drug Store and in Tarpley at 264 Valentine Road next to the Tarpley Volunteer Fire Department.
The Tarpley station will only be open from Saturday, Nov. 2, to Jan. 19 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., but the Hondo station has been open since Sept. 28 during those hours. It will add weekend hours from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. starting on Saturday and running to Jan. 19.
The Hondo hours will return to the weekday schedule on Jan. 20 and remainopen those shorter hours until Feb. 29. Both stations will be closed on Nov. 28, Dec. 24 at noon, Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.
Hunters are encouraged to report any “sick-looking” deer, elk, or other species susceptible to the disease while hunting in any CWD zone to parks and wildlife. Contact information for the CWD zone check stations is found within the CWD section of the current Outdoor Annual and associated smart device application.
Hunters cannot bring into Texas deer, elk, or other CWD susceptible species’ carcasses or parts of carcasses from another state or country known to have CWD.
Transporting of carcasses or parts of carcasses out of a CWD zone within Texas also is prohibited except under strict limitations.
Those limitations can be found online at the following link - https://tpwd.texas.gov/regulations/outdoor-annual/hunting/cwd/carcass-movement-restrictions.