Deadly deer disease a concern in Tennessee - WSMV News 4

Deadly deer disease a concern in Tennessee

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(WSMV file photo) (WSMV file photo)

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officers confiscated a deer last weekend and charged the hunter who shot it.

TWRA officials said the hunter brought the deer into Tennessee after killing it in Missouri, a state infected with a disease called Chronic Wasting Disease, or C.W.D.

"Chronic Wasting Disease is a neurological disease caused by a prion. A prion is a mis-folded protein," said TWRA wildlife program manager Richard Kirk.

The disease is similar to mad cow disease, but for deer. It’s fatal and spreads quickly.

Twenty-three other states already have C.W.D.

"That's why we have put on restrictions for import of deer carcasses that hunters killed in states that are C.W.D. positive," Kirk said.

Kirk said, along with having a recreational impact in Tennessee, the disease would have a huge economic impact because no deer means no out-of-state hunters.

"When you talk about indirect costs like hotels and gas stations and eating, we're talking upwards of a $98 million economic impact of a C.W.D. outbreak in Tennessee," Kirk said.

The TWRA is now doing everything they can to stop the disease, including collecting lymph node samples. They plan to test 1,500 this year. But what they really need is for hunters to know the rules and follow them.

"Because it's so stable in the environment it’s going to be awful hard to get rid of it. So the best answer is to keep it from coming," Kirk said.

The restrictions prohibit deer carcasses being brought into Tennessee from the C.W.D.-positive areas where the restrictions are applied, unless it is de-boned meat, antlers, antlers attached to a clean skull, a clean skull (no meat or tissue), cleaned teeth, finished taxidermy products, or hides and tanned products.

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