By Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.
Wildlife officials are reminding mule deer hunters and landowners in far West Texas about the protocols developed as part of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's (TPWD) Chronic Wasting Disease management plan. The plan includes mandatory check stations for harvested mule deer taken inside the CWD Containment Zone, which covers portions of Hudspeth, Culberson, and El Paso counties. See map of CWD zones at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/cwd.
The management plan was implemented after CWD was detected in tissue samples from two mule deer in far West Texas during the summer of 2012. Those were the first cases of CWD detected in Texas deer.
Nearly 300 tissue samples were collected from hunter harvested mule deer from the Trans Pecos ecoregion during the 2012-13 season for CWD testing. Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed CWD in four of those samples. All CWD-positive deer were harvested within the CWD Containment Zone.
Of 298 deer sampled during last hunting season, 107 were harvested in the Containment Zone, 93 were harvested in the adjacent High Risk Zone, 25 were harvested in the Buffer Zone, and 73 deer were harvested outside of the CWD zones. Nineteen of the samples collected from the Containment Zone were from deer harvested in the Hueco Mountains.
Hunters taking mule deer inside the Containment Zone during the 2013 general mule deer hunting season, Nov. 29 - Dec. 15, are required to submit their harvest (unfrozen head) for CWD sampling at mandatory check stations within 24 hours of harvest.
"We recommend hunters in the Containment Zone and High Risk Zone quarter deer in the field and leave all but the quarters, backstraps, and head at the site of harvest if it is not possible to bury the inedible carcass parts at least 6 feet deep on the ranch or take them to a landfill," said Shawn Gray, Mule Deer Program Leader for TPWD.
Mandatory check stations will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 29 - Dec. 16. Stations will be located in Cornudas at May's Café (on US 62-180) and in Van Horn at Van Horn Convention Center (1801 West Broadway).
Hunters who harvest deer in the Containment Zone outside the general season under the authority of MLDP (Managed Lands Deer Permits) will need to call TPWD at (512) 221-8491 the day the deer is harvested to make arrangements to have the deer sampled for CWD.
In addition to protocols within the Containment Zone, TPWD has established check stations for voluntary CWD sampling for deer harvested in other parts of West Texas. Biologists have been collecting mule deer harvest data in the region since 1980 and this year CWD sampling will be offered in addition to age and weight measurements.
Voluntary check stations will be established at the following locations during the first three weekends of the general season, Saturday through Monday (Nov. 30-Dec.2, Dec. 7-9, and Dec. 14-16), from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. Monday:
--Midland at Naturally Fresh (Deer Processor) (1501 Elwyn)
--Bakersfield at Chevron Station (south of I10; Exit 294)
--Sanderson at Slim's Auto Repair (823 West Oak; Intersection of US 90 and 285)
--Alpine at Hip-O Taxidermy (east side of town on US 90, across from Dairy Queen)
All deer brought to the check stations this season will be aged as part of our CWD surveillance. Additional biological information such as antler measurements and field dressed weights will also be collected as time allows.
TPWD has tested almost 30,000 wild hunter-harvested and road-killed deer in Texas since 2002. The captive-deer industry in Texas has submitted more than 7,400 CWD test results as well.
"CWD has not been detected anywhere outside of the Hueco Mountains," said Mitch Lockwood, Big Game Program Director with TPWD. "But adequate surveillance in that part of West Texas depends on check stations and we appreciate the cooperation and active participation of hunters and landowners in this effort."
More information on CWD can be found on TPWD's website, http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/cwd or at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website, http://www.cwd-info.org.