CWD is a highly contagious and deadly neurological disease that causes a spongy deterioration of the brain of infected animals. Symptoms of the disease include weight loss, drooling, loss of muscle control, difficulty swallowing, grinding teeth, excessive thirst, frequent urination, exaggerated posture, staggering, unusual behavior, and drooping of the head and ears. PICTURED: Stock image of a whitetail deer. Photo by Anthony Roberts on Unsplash

Zone may expand into Shelby County for chronic wasting disease in deer

CWD is a highly contagious and deadly neurological disease that causes a spongy deterioration of the brain of infected animals. Symptoms of the disease include weight loss, drooling, loss of muscle control, difficulty swallowing, grinding teeth, excessive thirst, frequent urination, exaggerated posture, staggering, unusual behavior, and drooping of the head and ears. PICTURED: A whitetail deer. Photo by Anthony Roberts via Unsplash.com

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced the total number of deer testing positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) has climbed to 91 in Fayette and Hardeman counties. Three additional deer, if confirmed by secondary testing, would expand the CWD Zone.

Two of the deer receiving secondary testing are from Hardeman and Fayette counties and, if confirmed, would bring Chester and Shelby counties into the CWD Management Zone due to the proximity to those counties. The remaining deer is from Madison County, and if confirmed, the location of that deer would add Madison and Haywood County to the zone.

Although Madison, Chester, Shelby, and Haywood counties are currently outside TWRA’s CWD Management Zone, CWD Coordinator Chuck Yoest, does not anticipate any changes to hunting regulations there for the remainder of the current 2018-19 deer hunting season.

“Changing the regulations now would be premature as we are getting new information daily,” Yoest said. “Once all the results have come back from our recent CWD sampling efforts, and all positive deer have been mapped, we will then develop a long term management plan including changes to hunting regulations.

“I imagine some people perceive the increased total of positives and the potential of expansion of the zone as an indication the disease is rapidly growing,” Yoest continued. “It is instead due to TWRA’s swift and focused sampling efforts in the affected area and being transparent and timely about the results as they are received.”

TWRA, with assistance from hunters, has collected more than 2,000 samples in the CWD Management Zone and surrounding counties since CWD was first detected on Dec. 14 in Fayette and Hardeman counties. The Agency is still awaiting results on approximately 800 samples, and anticipates collecting a couple hundred more samples during the last week of the extended hunting season in the CWD Management Zone.