Case of chronic wasting disease found in deer could affect hunters in the Texas Panhandle

Case of chronic wasting disease found in deer could affect hunters in the Texas Panhandle (File Photo).

The first case of chronic wasting disease in the Texas Panhandle, also known as CWD, of 2018 was reported Wednesday.

It was reported between Dalhart and Hartley in a white-tailed deer.

CWD is a contagious neurological disease known to be deadly to deer, elk and moose.

This has been going on for awhile. The first case ever in the Texas Panhandle was reported in 2015. As a result, a containment zone was created.

"The point of containment zones is to minimize unnatural movement outside of those zones and as far as the hunter is concerned, it doesn't really change anything," said James Hoskins. "They have to have that deer mandatory tested. If it was harvested in that zone, it's got to be tested."

There are two checkpoints in the Panhandle: one in Vega and one in Dalhart. The sample will then be sent to a lab all the way in Austin, meaning it could take some time before you can eat your meat.

Some wonder that the zones will widen if more CWD cases are reported. That would mean it would take even longer to get your deer tested.

"As far as how long the zones are going to be in place, our goal is to shrink them as quickly as possible given enough evidence," said Hoskins.

But as more cases pop up, it is hard to shrink the zones.

"Our role as game wardens is just to make sure that those deer are contained in that area and that none are illegally taken out to where it could affect more deer in different areas," said Shane Lewis, Potter County Game Warden.

Once the deer has been tested negative for CWD, it is ok to eat, but some hunters say they eat it before the test comes back because it can take weeks to months.

"I don't want people to be upset or scared that they shouldn't go hunting anymore or that they can't eat deer or anything like that," said Hoskins. "Right now, we're a renaissance for game management and game eating country-wide so it would be really sad to stop that because of a scare."

Lewis says the fine can be up to $500 for not taking the deer to a checkpoint. And he says that if anyone sees a deer that is acting sick, to call Texas Parks and Wildlife immediately at (806)420-0439.

Again, there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans through eating the meat.

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