Facts on CWD

Over the past months I've had many requests for good, solid information on chronic wasting disease (CWD). The very best summary of this disease can be found on the website of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (www.scwds.org, then go to the April 2002 Newsletter). It contains information on what is known about CWD, diagnosis, how it spreads, surveillance, management, its history in captive and wild animals, and public health concerns.

To read excellent testimony on CWD given to Congress in mid-May from state wildlife agencies go to the web at "http://resourcescommittee.house.gov/107cong/forests/2002may16/agenda.htm." Of interest might be the testimony of Wayne Pacelle from the Humane Society of the United States. One of his recommendations is to stop all interstate movement of deer and elk, a suggestion that many wildlife biologists also support until more is learned about how CWD spreads.

One of the most devastating outcomes of CWD is that it might decrease hunter participation because of hunters' fear of eating meat from potentially diseased deer. A summer survey of hunters in Wisconsin showed that 25 percent said that CWD has changed their hunting plans. If that many hunters avoid the woods, the impact on state wildlife agency programs could be devastating. The two states where this most likely will occur are Wisconsin and Colorado. This season will tell the story.

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