Educational session to provide information on Chronic Wasting Disease ahead of MDWFP meeting

Published 9:22 am Friday, December 9, 2022

By Hunter Cloud, The Daily Leader

JACKSON — It has been a busy week for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Deer Program. Eight deer tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in Mississippi with the samples coming from Benton and Marshall County. Chronic Wasting Disease is a 100 percent always fatal disease caused by an infectious prion, a
misfolded protein. To date, Mississippi has 158 positives since first detection in 2018 and 24 of those have come this year. Hunters have submitted 2,241 samples for testing at this point in the hunting season. Mississippi has about two more months of the deer season to get to its target goal of 10,000 CWD samples. It is perfect timing for the upcoming MDWFP Commission Meeting to be held in Jackson on December 15 at 10 a.m. Jennifer Ballard, state wildlife veterinarian, and Cory Gray, research division chief, with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will talk about CWD in an education session prior to the meeting at 9:30 a.m.

A little early

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At the last MDWFP commission meeting in November, commissioners voted to redefine how a
county was placed in the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone in relation to where
cases are found on the Mississippi River. Louisiana detected a positive in Tensas Parish last
January close to Claiborne County land on the left side of the river and about eight miles from
the right side of the river.
Commissioners originally placed Claiborne County in a supplemental feed ban but public
comments urged them to reconsider in November. They acted against the best management
practices for fighting Chronic Wasting Disease put together by state wildlife agencies, MDWFP
rescinded the ban.
Supplemental feeding allows for unnatural congregation of deer in close proximity which
increases the risk for spreading CWD. MDWFP and the MSU Deer Lab have worked hand in
hand to educate hunters and property managers about ways they can feed deer without using
corn feeders through proper habitat management and planting food plots.
Commissioner William Mounger II urged his colleagues to at least wait until December’s
educational session before making a decision but it was to no avail. The education session is
open to the general public and can be viewed on the MDWFP’s YouTube and webpage as can
its business meeting.

“It is a complex issue. There is no easy solution to this. We will do an education session in December and I encourage everyone to please come in December to learn about CWD,” Mounger said in November.

On the agenda

Justin Smith is scheduled to give public comments on Mahannah Wildlife Management Area. Jason Thompson will present a license sales report which is important as 90 percent of the MDWFP’s budget is funded by license sales.
Commissioners will finalize the regulations for the Alligator Hunting Season in Pelahatchie Bay in Rankin County. Parks Director Andre’ Hollis will provide an update on the parks while his colleague Brian Ferguson, parks chief of staff, will present a market based proposal and state park fee rule changes. Additionally, Col. Jerry Carter, chief of law enforcement, will give an enforcement update and present the Officers of the Year and Lifesaving Awards at the meeting.