CWD – Things You Should Know

Chronic Wasting Disease

CWD Lies
By Dan Schmidt

"We're not exactly sure what's going on in Michigan, their deer herd and chronic wasting disease... This discussion should not have anything to do with the so-called ethics of hunting. These recommendations are being made solely upon a perceived necessity in the name of science. If you take the action on that face-and that face only-it not only fails the litmus test, it smacks of state-employees taking the easy way out. It's a huge injustice to not only Michigan's hard-working deer hunters, it's a slap in the face to deer hunters everywhere. It's time to (again) debunk these CWD myths.

To recap:

1. There is no hard science anywhere that indicates a direct connection between deer urine and the oft-cited "50 percent CWD infection rate." Claims: In a recent memo, the MI-DNR reports "that 10 ml of contaminated urine ... contains enough prions to infect 50 percent of exposed deer." Truth: Deer & Deer Hunting knows of no peer-reviewed, published, scientific research to back up this claim.

2. There is no hard science that indicates a "95 percent CWD transmission rate" among deer that feed at bait and/or supplemental feeding stations. Claims: In that same memo, the MI-DNR states "a review of 29 studies" indicates an average transmission rate of 95 percent among deer that feed near baiting/supplemental feeding areas.

Truth: Although some deer biologists and researchers believe there might be a link to increased risks of CWD transmission and feeding sites, we know of no such studies that were scientific or peer-reviewed, much less published in a scientific journal. These wake-up calls are being cast across the country. We have been down this road before. The mass hysteria caused in the early 2000s taught us not to support such measures unless there are results. We were promised results and never saw them. Worse, we learned that throwing the word "research" in there does nothing unless you have the papers to back it up...

Deer hunters need to rise up and demand science-based wildlife management from scientists who use science how it is supposed to be used: To disprove a theory. Not come up with the answer first, then do the research. It doesn't work that way. Combating CWD shouldn't be a case in pussy-footing around the subject. It should begin (and I'd argue, end) with real research and less politically correct, bureaucratic rhetoric."
What is CWD and Can I Eat the Meat?
The CDC states at

"Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a prion disease that affects deer, elk, reindeer, sika deer and moose... infected animals develop... drastic weight loss, stumbling, listlessness, and other neurologic systems... and some infected animals may die without ever developing the disease. CWD is fatal to animals and there are no treatments or vaccines.

To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, animal studies suggest CWD poses a risk to some types of non- human primates, like monkeys, that eat meat from CWD-infected animals or come in contact with brain or body fluids from infected deer or elk. These studies raise concerns that there may also be a risk to people. Since 1997, the World Health Organization has recommended that it is important to keep the agents of all known prion diseases from entering the human food chain." CWD is in the same group of disorders as Mad Cow Disease which can infect humans. The CDC suggests you be careful about how you process venison harvested. Deer can carry CWD for months to years before symptoms become obvious.
New Deer Regulations Related to Chronic Wasting Disease
On 8-9-18 Deer hunting regulations aimed at slowing the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) was approved by the Michigan Natural Resources Commission. The disease was first discovered in Michigan in May 2015. More than 31,000 deer in Michigan have been tested and it's confirmed in 60 free-ranging deer in six Michigan counties. New regulations are in effect for this season. Go to
How Does CWD Spread
At it explains:

"It is not known exactly how CWD is transmitted. The infectious agent may be passed in feces, urine or saliva. Transmission is thought to be (from animal to animal). The minimal incubation period between infection and development... appears to be approximately 16 months. The maximal incubation period is unknown, as is the point at which shedding of the CWD agent begins during the prolonged course of infection. Because CWD infectious agents are extremely resistant in the environment, transmission may be both direct and indirect. Concentrating deer and elk in captivity or by artificial feeding probably increases the likelihood of both direct and indirect transmission between individuals. Contaminated pastures appear to have served as sources of infection in some CWD epidemics. The movement of live animals is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease into new areas. Natural movements of wild deer and elk contribute to the spread of the disease, and human-aided transportation of both captive and wild animals greatly exacerbates this risk factor. The apparent spread of CWD between captive and wild cervids is a matter of hot debate. Although strong circumstantial evidence suggests that CWD has spread from positive captive elk to wild cervids in some instances, it may never be proven which group of animals represents the source of infection."
CWD Spread in Connection with Soil and Plants
By Cookson Beecher go to:

According to researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, grass plants can bind, uptake and transport infectious prions. Much smaller than bacteria, prions are single proteins that cannot be destroyed by typical "kill strategies" such as extreme heat or ultraviolet light. Retention of infectivity of CWD prions was analyzed in wheat grass roots/leaves and it was discovered that even highly diluted amounts of the material can bind to the roots/leaves. From there, they fed the wheat grass to hamsters, which became infected. The team also found the infectious prions in plants that had been exposed to urine and feces from prion-infected hamsters and deer. They found that plants can uptake prions from contaminated soil and transport them to different parts of the plant acting as a carrier of CWD. Scientists already knew that these CWD prions are good at binding to soil, especially clay-based soils. When some of the soil where an infected dead animal had been buried was injected into research animals several years after it had been buried, the injected animals came down with prion disease.
Mature Bucks NOT Encouraged

"We examined the data from nearly 2,000 adult deer within the area where CWD is most prevalent. For yearling deer, we found chronic wasting disease at equal levels in male and female yearlings, 3.2% and 3.6%, respectively," said Dr. Mike Samuel, lead CWD researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Cooperative Wildlife Research Center, housed at the University of Wisconsin. "But when the deer in our sample reach three years of age, males are showing double the prevalence - 16.3% in males compared to 8.1% in the females. This is similar to information reported from Colorado earlier this year."

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