A second deer in North Carolina has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

Officials with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission say the deer was tested as part of ongoing CWD surveillance efforts cooperating with farmers that have active depredation permits. The deer came from a farm less than one mile from where the first CWD-positive deer was harvested in Yadkin County in December 2021

“With deer season opening in less than a month, we wanted to get the news of this second positive out as quickly as possible,” said Brad Howard, chief of the Wildlife Commission’s Wildlife Management Division. “It’s imperative that hunters understand how important it is to submit samples to help determine how prevalent CWD is here in North Carolina. It’s also crucial that we enlist their help to not give the disease a ride to new areas.”

As a result of the first positive, Primary and Secondary Surveillance Areas were established within the northwestern region and special regulations were implemented in the Surveillance Areas.

The Secondary Surveillance area includes all of Wilkes east of N.C. 18 and N.C. 115.

Since the two infected deer came from the same area, no changes to the Surveillance Areas are planned at this time. A comprehensive overview of the special CWD regulations is online at ncwildlife.org/CWD.

Officials say the biggest message to hunters this season is, “Don’t give it a ride.” CWD spreads via infected saliva, urine and feces of live deer, or the movement of deer carcasses and carcass parts. Since deer who are infected may appear healthy, it is important that precautions are taken when transporting or disposing of deer carcasses.

“CWD is highly transmissible. It’s imperative that if you hunt and harvest deer that you responsibly dispose of deer remains,” said Howard.

Howard suggests hunters follow one of the following disposal methods:

• Bury the deer remains where you harvest the animal when possible.

• Double bag deer remains for disposal at the closest landfill.

• Leave the deer remains on the ground where the animal was harvested.

It’s important to emphasize that current Surveillance efforts are focused on working closely with both hunters and farmers throughout the year. The CWD-positive deer taken with the depredation permit was 1 of 28 deer tested within in the Primary Surveillance Area this summer.

“The second positive test result has confirmed that our proactive approach to continue increased testing of deer is successfully helping us track the occurrence of the disease,” said Howard.

“Hunters can submit deer heads during the hunting season at freezers located across the state, and we’ll continue testing roadkill, deer taken with depredation permits, and samples sent from cooperators such as taxidermists and meat processors.”

The archery hunting season for white-tailed deer opens across the state on Sept. 10. Black powder and firearms seasons will vary per region. The full season schedule is available at ncwildlife.org.

Deer attractants

The Wildlife Commission voted at its business meeting on Aug. 18 to adopt an emergency amendment to restrict the use of some natural deer attractants/scents in the Primary and Secondary chronic Wasting disease (CWD) Surveillance Areas.

The commission’s emergency rule builds off the General Assembly’s Session Law 2021-176 that took effect on December 1, 2021 which defines the attractants/scents that may be used while hunting statewide. The session law stipulates that possession or use of substances containing a cervid excretion, including feces, urine, blood, gland oil, or other bodily fluid for the purposes of taking or attempting to take, attract, or scout wildlife are prohibited. However, the following substances may be used:

• Synthetic products that are labeled as such.

• Products containing natural substances collected by a hunter from a cervid legally harvested in North Carolina.

• Natural deer urine and other substances collected from a facility in North Carolina with a valid Farmed Cervid License from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) and identified/labeled as such.

• The emergency amendment, applicable only to the CWD Surveillance Areas, prohibits possession and use of any excretion collected by a hunter from a harvested deer. This is in addition to regulations already established, restricting the transport of deer carcasses and carcass parts from the CWD Surveillance Areas.

The intent of these rules is to help the agency determine the extent of CWD and reduce the risk that CWD prions are moved and distributed within and outside of the Surveillance Areas.

Statewide, outside of CWD Surveillance Areas, hunters can continue using deer attractants/scents if they are synthetic, collected from a legally harvested deer within North Carolina, contain excretions from North Carolina facilities with a valid Farmed Cervid License from the NCDA&CS and are labeled as such, or are products labeled as participating in the Responsible Hunting Scent Association’s Deer Protection Program. Hunters hunting within the CWD Surveillance Areas may NOT use or possess urine or other substances collected from deer harvested within North Carolina for hunting.

For more information on Chronic Wasting Disease and related regulations, visit the KNOW CWD webpage, ncwildlife.org/CWD.

Hemorrhagic disease

Scattered observations of sick and dead deer due to an outbreak of hemorrhagic disease have been reported in numerous counties across the foothills, Piedmont and Coastal Plain of North Carolina over the last month. Officials with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission are asking that citizens report dead or obviously sick deer to their local district wildlife biologist to help monitor the impact of the disease on deer herds across the state.

“Hemorrhagic disease is a common disease in southeastern deer populations that causes sporadic outbreaks every few years, typically resulting in dead deer found near water in late summer,” said Moriah Boggess, deer biologist for the Wildlife Commission. “The term hemorrhagic disease is collectively used for both Bluetongue and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease viruses, both of which cause similar symptoms in deer.”

Hemorrhagic disease is very different from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which was first detected in North Carolina this year in two deer from Yadkin County.

“An important difference between the two diseases is that deer, especially in the South, are adapted to hemorrhagic disease because it’s been here as long as we have deer records, but CWD is a relatively new deer disease. Even in the worst hemorrhagic disease outbreaks some deer survive and pass on their immunity to offspring; CWD on the other hand is incurable and deer that contract the disease cannot survive it,” said Boggess. “While it may seem like hemorrhagic disease kills more deer in the short term, the future implications of CWD are much grimmer, because CWD permanently affects population viability and infection rates steadily climb each year.”

Sick deer suspect of having hemorrhagic disease have been reported in 39 counties in the state, with the highest frequency of reports from the Mountains and Piedmont regions. Bluetongue and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease have both been confirmed in tissues submitted to laboratories for testing, with numerous more samples pending results. Samples for CWD testing have also been submitted to the laboratory and are pending results. It is still too early in the disease outbreak to determine whether there will be any significant population impacts; however, even following severe hemorrhagic disease outbreaks deer populations typically rebound in a few years.

Once a hemorrhagic disease outbreak begins, it usually continues until weather conditions are not conducive for the biting midges that spread the disease, which is typically the first frost of fall. Some deer that are harvested this fall may have rings in their hooves or scars in the dental palate; both are signs that a deer was infected with hemorrhagic disease and recovered. Hemorrhagic disease is not transmissible to people through the biting midge or consumption of venison.

For more information on hemorrhagic disease, visit the Wildlife Commission’s webpage on deer diseases. More information on CWD is available at ncwildlife.org/CWD.

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