JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Gun deer hunting season opened this past weekend and wildlife officials are already taking steps to make sure the deer harvested do not have Chronic Wasting Disease.
Since CWD was first found in our state in 2018, there have been 59 positive deer identified. Five of those cases have been found this hunting season.
Once again this year, the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks is relying on hunters to track CWD through sampling.
“North Mississippi is the area where CWD seems to be most prevalent,” said Russ Walsh, an executive staff officer with MDWFP. “So in Benton and Marshall counties, we’ve had mandatory sampling weekends this deer season.”
The sale of hunting licenses is on the rise, seeing about a 16 percent increase this year compared to last. The hope is that through harvesting more deer, wildlife officials can better track where the infected deer are located.
“Broad-scale testing, really statewide, certainly in the areas where we have CWD... We want to have sample statewide so we can determine where it is,” said Walsh.
State wildlife officials say they’ve collected 8,000 deer samples every hunting season. Hundreds of those have come from Ellis Solomon Taxidermy in Brandon.
“I’m really not sure how it spreads, but I don’t see any evidence of it anywhere local,” said Solomon. “I just hope it stays that way. I don’t know what we can do to keep the spread down but, whatever we need to do, I think we should try.”
In other states, Chronic Wasting Disease has decimated deer herds. The hunt continues in Mississippi to identify the infected deer before they spread it.
For more on the 2020-2021 hunting seasons, click here.