Actions are being taken by the Game and Fish Commission to stop Chronic Wasting Disease, in the same family of diseases as Mad Cow, from infecting the state’s deer and elk populations. Cases in northwestern Missouri are the closest to Arkansas.
New steps ban the transportation of live cervids and carcasses hunted in all other states. This adds to a 2003 law which only prevented importation from states with known cases.
Corey Gray, the Deer Program Coordinator with Game and Fish said Arkansas is being proactive.
“Many states now have stopped testing because of limited funding. Some states are allowing the importation of cervids into their state and they’re starting to liberalize a little bit on the movement of live animals and then they’ve decreased testing. So, it caused a great concern to us because we want to make sure our herd is healthy. That’s why the commission has modified our regulations to increase our protection,” said Gray.
Gray said studies are limited, but there has been no indication the disease can be transmitted to humans or other livestock. The disease has spread across several states since the 1960's. It originated in small areas of Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska.
Gray said detecting the disease can be difficult because it remains dormant for up to 18 months.
“They’ll have a staggering, they’ll lose their fear of humans. You can touch these animals, you can move them. They’ll have a long distance stare on their face. Basically their brain is wasting away and you’ll see voids when you look at under the microscope you can actually see voids in the brain matter,” said Gray.
The state already has been sampling populations for testing since 1998.