AUSTIN, Texas (KETK)- The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is warning people to watch out for cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) since deer season is approaching. Cases of the disease have already been reported in the state.
The cases were discovered in a free-ranging mule deer in Lubbock County, and in seven captive deer breeding facilities in Hunt, Uvalde, Matagorda, Mason, and Duval counties.
TPWD is worried that this illness was passed onto free-ranging deer herds on properties that obtained animals from the deer breeding facilities where CWD was found.
More than 1,700 deer were freed to high fence pastures in 119 properties in Texas.
“The level of suspected risk for these properties that received released deer exposed to CWD is of significant concern to TPWD. The movement of live deer is readily accepted as the greatest risk of spreading CWD across the state,” said the Texas Parks Wildlife Department.
According to experts, it can be almost impossible to eradicate the disease, once it impacts free-ranging deer populations.
“TPWD and the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) have been working diligently to conduct epidemiological investigations and establish testing plans for those release sites in hopes of preventing CWD from becoming established in the free-ranging deer populations,” added the Texas Parks Wildlife Department.
With the addition of new CWD cases, there are now 261 sick deer in 14 counties. 168 of these cases are connected to captive breeding facilities and 25 from release sites associated with those positive captive breeding facilities.
Additionally, 68 cases were found in free-ranging deer populations. 57 of these animal were in the Trans Pecos and Texas panhandle, while 11 were in Medina and Val Verde counties.
Wildlife officials also said the community can help prevent the spread of CWD by looking out for hunter-harvested deer, road-kills, and sick deer.
“Landowners and hunters play a critical role in managing CWD and are encouraged to report any tagged deer, or deer that appear to be sick or behaving strangely, to a TPWD biologist. Anyone hunting deer this season is encouraged to voluntarily provide samples for testing by taking deer to the nearest check station or by contacting a biologist in their area,” said the Texas Parks Wildlife Department.