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Alabama ups deer checks as disease spreads in neighboring states

From staff and wire reports

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama is increasing checks for a lethal deer disease because chronic wasting disease has been found in neighboring Mississippi and Tennessee.

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is asking hunters to submit harvested deer for chronic wasting disease tests at check stations, freezer drop-off locations, or offices of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries.

Chronic wasting disease, or CWD, is a highly infectious disease spread by prions, which can be present in an infected deer’s saliva, feces, urine, blood, and antler velvet for a year or two before symptoms show. It has been found in most kinds of deer and related species, including moose, elk, mule deer, and white-tailed deer, and in more than two dozen states.

During the 2019 legislative session, state lawmakers passed a long-debated measure allowing licensed sportsmen to use bait to hunt deer and feral hogs. Those opposed to the bill, including the Alabama Wildlife Federation, said deer baiting increases the chances of CDW spreading.

The Alabama Department of Conservation negotiated changes to the bill that allowed the agency to end baiting if diseases are found in the state’s deer population.

“We’re working on many fronts to keep Chronic Wasting Disease out of our state,” Blakenship said at the time. The importation of live deer was banned several years ago and since last year, whole deer harvested in other states can’t be transported to Alabama. 

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