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CWD continues to spread in West Tennessee after deer tests positive in Shelby County

The TWRA said the find was not necessarily surprising, as CWD had already been detected in counties surrounding Shelby.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said Chronic Wasting Disease is continuing its spread in Tennessee after it was detected in Shelby County.

A 2-year-old buck that had been hunted in the Wolf River Wildlife Management Area tested positive for the disease. The TWRA said the find isn't necessarily surprising given the disease has been prevalent in neighboring Fayette County and had already been detected in Tipton County to the north.  

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In the latest round of sampling since Aug. 2019, more than 40 other deer have tested positive for CWD in Fayette,  Hardeman and Shelby counties so far. When the disease was first detected in Tennessee during the prior hunting season, the TWRA found 185 carcasses between Nov. 2018 and Jan. 2019 had tested positive in Fayette, Hardeman, Tipton and Madison counties. 

CWD poses a significant ecological threat nationwide as members of the deer family become infected. The TWRA said the disease is 100 percent fatal to deer and elk, and can be transmitted in a variety of ways such as contaminated feed or water sources.

The TWRA said there are no known management strategies to lessen the risk of indirect transmission of the disease once the environment has been contaminated, saying that alone makes the eradication of CWD very difficult -- if not impossible. 

Anyone that sees deer or elk that look sick, act strangely, or are found dead in the wild are asked to avoid shooting or handling them and report it to their regional office. 

Because of the threat, the TWRA has implemented CWD response protocols to slow and prevent its spread.

The most major change has been establishing a distinct CWD hunting zone in Southwest Tennessee that has special rules.

Shelby County had already been apart of the CWD zone prior to the recent discovery. The only change now is that the county has been reclassified to CWD-positive, which adds extra restrictions to prevent people from transporting deer carcasses to counties that aren't CWD positive. 

Credit: TWRA

The CWD zone includes Chester, Crockett, Fayette, Gibson, Hardeman, Haywood, Madison, McNairy, Shelby and Tipton counties. 

Hunters are not allowed to place grain, salt, minerals or other food within the zone. Deer carcasses are not allowed to be transported out of the CWD zone without being processed first.

The TWRA is warning there is also an import ban on deer carcasses. It is illegal in Tennessee and Alabama to import whole deer carcasses and certain body parts of any deer species into the states.

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