As deer season approaches, officials warn hunters of Chronic Wasting Disease

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD,) is in six states bordering Kentucky.  (Photo: WKYT/Megan James)
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD,) is in six states bordering Kentucky. (Photo: WKYT/Megan James)(WKYT)
Published: Nov. 6, 2019 at 3:38 PM EST
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Deer season officially opens Nov. 9, and the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife wants hunters to be watchful of animals suffering from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD.)

"Chronic Wasting Disease is an always fatal brain disease that affects members of the deer family- deer, elk, moose, reindeer, caribou. It's a disease they get that causes them to waste away to nothing. It forms holes in the brain where it gets its name from," says Gabe Jenkins, Deer and Elk program coordinator.

CWD has not yet been found in Kentucky. It is, however, in six of the 7 bordering states, with Indiana being the exception. The Department of Fish & Wildlife is working hard to keep it that way.

"We have been looking since 2002. We have tested over 30,000 animals in that time frame. We have been very pro-active as an agency trying to keep the disease out of the state."

Jenkins says educating hunters is the first line of defense in keeping the disease out of Kentucky.

"They are the boots on the ground. They are the ones enacting what we are recommending. The main forms of disease introduction could be carcass importation, so if you are a hunter and like to go to another state that there is Chronic Wasting Disease, make sure that you leave those harvested animals there."

It's still okay to hunt, but you should get the animal tested by a local agency. It is important that you do not take back any part of the nervous system.

"Bring the meat, bring any finished taxidermy work, you can bring deboned meat or bring the bones back."

If you do choose to consume deer meat, it is a wise idea to make sure the animal does not have CWD.

"There is no scientific evidence to say humans can get Chronic Wasting Disease from eating infected venison, but the way we look at it is it's not worth the risk."

The Department of Fish & Wildlife just wants people to enjoy the season, but to be smart in the actions they take.

"Happy, healthy hunting, and enjoying this time of year, for sure."

If you want to know more about Chronic Wasting Disease or anything else hunting-related, you can visit the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife's website.

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