It was inevitable. Until the last couple of weeks, Louisiana deer hunters have held their collective breaths that Chronic Wasting Disease that has surrounded our state would not make an appearance in Louisiana deer. The disease has been found in deer in Texas, Arkansas and Mississippi and it was only a matter of time before it showed up in Louisiana deer. It’s here now.
A buck deer taken in Tensas Parish has tested positive for the dreaded disease.
What is Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD? The disease results from mutated proteins, or prions, found throughout the nervous system of cervids – that includes animals such as deer, moose, and elk. The disease is always fatal and is highly transmissible between cervids.
We visited with Deer Study Leader for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Jonathon Bordelon, for his comments about what deer hunters in our state can expect going forward.
“Although deer seasons have come to a close in Louisiana for the 2021-22 time frame, there is the possibility of a baiting and feeding ban for the 2022-23 season in the areas affected,” Bordelon said. “Tensas Parish with those adjoining Tensas, Madison and Franklin, are likely to see these restrictions for next season.”
“In addition, export restrictions will likely be put in place. For example,” Bordelon continued, “it is likely that should a deer be taken in the restricted areas, only meat, skull cap and antlers and jaw bones may be removed from the restricted area.”
An internet search of the disease and its impact on overall deer populations is telling. For example, CWD has an extended period of incubation averaging 18-24 months between infection and the onset of noticeable signs. During this time frame, animals look and act normal. The most obvious sign of CWD is progressive weight loss. Other behavioral changes reported include decreased social interaction, loss of awareness and loss of fear of humans. Diseased animals also may exhibit increased drinking, urination and excessive salivation.
The disease was first identified in captive deer in a Colorado research facility in the late 1960s and in wild deer in 1981. Since 2000, at least 28 states have produced positive tests in free-ranging animals. Nationwide, the overall occurrence of CWD in free-ranging deer is relatively low. However, in several locations where the disease is established, infection rates may exceed 10% with some localized areas reporting more than 25%.
What effect can exposure to CWD have on humans? To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD in people. However, some animal studies suggest that CWD poses a risk to certain types of non-human primates, such as monkeys, that eat meat from CWD-infected animals. These studies raise concerns that there may also be a risk to people, although this has not been established.
Bordelon noted another risk of the disease when feeding and/or baiting is allowed to attract deer.
“These mutated proteins can remain active for years and not only are items used to feed deer may be affected but also plants that grow on areas where the prions are present may also be incorporated into some plants,” he said.
One slight bit encouragement is that since 2018 between 500 and 600 deer have been tested in Tensas Parish with only this one deer being positive so far.
“However,” Bordelon cautioned, “when you find one, you’re likely to find more.”
Chronic Wasting Disease; I suppose it’s something deer hunters in Louisiana will have to deal with from now on.
CANEY LAKE – Bass fishing has taken the spotlight this week as the Knock-Out Round for the 38 remaining professional anglers fishing the Major League Fishing event fished Caney on Wednesday. It is likely that some impressive weights will come in as last week, a bass over 9 pounds was reported by a local angler. Crappie fishing has been fair to good with best fishing down by the dam in deep water with shiners producing best. No report on bream or catfish. For information contact Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – Fishing is slow. No report this week. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323- 8707 for latest information.
OUACHITA RIVER – Crappie fishing is best fishing the deep tops, 15 feet deep in 18-25 foot water on shiners or jigs. Bass are fair in the run-outs from river lakes to river with spinners, crank baits and soft plastics working best. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – In spite of cold temperatures and clear skies, quite a few big bass were caught this week by professional anglers who were here for the Major League Fishing event. They were caught around piers, in open water and around structure on a variety of lures. Crappie fishing has been best in the channel fishing 20 feet deep in 25-30 foot water on jigs or shiners. Bream fishing is slow while catfish are still biting cold worms fished off the banks. For latest reports, call Anderson’s Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – Quite a few crappie are being caught in deep water out from the dam mostly on shiners. Also, some are around deep brush with some good catches made at night around the lighted piers. Bass fishing is reported to be fair this week. No report on bream, catfish or stripers. For latest information, call Misty at Kel’s Cove at 331-2730 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing has been good on cold worms for pan-sized fish and larger. Crappie are off and on with some caught on shiners or jigs around the boat slips. Bass are fair. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101.
LAKE ST. JOHN – The water is low; launching boats is a near impossibility. Some hybrid stripers are being caught off the piers. For information, call Ken Mahoney at 318-201-3821.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water is due for a 10 foot rise this weekend and as a result, few anglers are fishing this week. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
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