AUSTIN – Wildlife officials are reminding mule deer hunters and landowners in far West Texas about the testing protocols required in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) 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. A map of CWD zones can be found on the department’s website 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. Four more CWD-positive mule deer were detected during the 2012-13 season, but no new CWD-positives were detected last hunting season. Over 600 tissue samples have been collected for CWD testing purposes from hunter-harvested deer and elk from the Trans Pecos ecoregion the past two hunting seasons.
Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) and TPWD will also use the CWD check stations in a cooperative effort to monitor for bovine tuberculosis (TB) in Texas. The tissue samples used for this effort would be the same samples currently collected as part of the ongoing CWD monitoring effort.
Hunters taking mule deer inside the Containment Zone during the 2014 general mule deer hunting season, Nov. 28 – Dec. 14, are required to submit their harvest (unfrozen head) for CWD sampling at a check station within 24 hours of take.
“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 they are unable to bury the inedible carcass parts as deep as possible 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. 28 – Dec. 15. Stations will be located in Cornudas at May’s Café (on US 62-180) and in Van Horn at the 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 susceptible species like elk and 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 once again 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. 29–Dec.1, Dec. 6–8, and Dec. 13–15), from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Monday:
All deer brought to the check stations this season will be aged as part of disease surveillance. Additional biological information such as antler measurements and field dressed weights will also be collected as time allows.
“CWD has not been detected anywhere outside of the Hueco Mountains,” said Dr. Bob Dittmar, wildlife veterinarian 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.”
Information on Bovine TB can be found on TAHC’ website, http://www.tahc.state.tx.us/animal_health/cattle_tb/cattle_tb.html