Wanna Step Outside? Chronic wasting disease among deer creeping closer

Published 9:02 am Thursday, March 24, 2022

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By Dan Kibler

Little by little, the fox is edging closer to the chicken house.

North Carolina remains one of a handful of states that have yet to experience the joys of chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer and other like animals.

But it’s getting closer with the announcement by officials in Virginia that two more CWD-infected deer were harvested last fall in counties that border North Carolina. One deer taken in Floyd County, 28½ miles from North Carolina, tested positive, and a deer in neighboring Montgomery County also tested positive – the second such animal in that county. In 2020-21, a CWD-infected deer was confirmed in Montgomery County, just 33 miles from North Carolina.

CWD is caused by abnormal proteins, prions, that spread through a deer’s nervous system, causing brain damage that is always fatal. The disease is spread between deer through direct contest, through saliva, urine and feces or carcasses and body parts.

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has ramped up its program to track CWD if it ever reaches North Carolina’s deer herd by taking tissue samples from more than 20,000 deer since 2000 – 7,000 deer since July 2021 – paying special attention to Alleghany, Rockingham, Stokes and Surry counties, which border the commonwealth’s affected areas. About half of the most-recent samples have been tested and no CWD has been detected.

“These new CWD-positive samples in Virginia highlight the importance of our surveillance efforts here in North Carolina,” said biologist Chris Kreh of Elkin, assistant chief of the Commission’s Wildlife Management Division. “We received a record number of deer samples from taxidermists, meat processors and hunters to bolster our ability to test more deer than ever before for CWD…. I hope we don’t find that CWD is here, but if it is, I hope we find it as early as possible.”

CWD moves slowly through a deer’s system, often taking almost a year-and-a-half before the deer starts to show signs. There is no vaccine, treatment or cure for the disease, which has been detected in 29 states and four Canadian provinces, the latest being Mississipp, which has taken radical steps to stem the tide of the disease in areas it has shown up, including changes in hunting seasons, hunting regulations – especially concerning baiting of deer – and bag limits.

East Burke eighth-grader is aspiring Robin Hood

There is just no stopping Natalie Bell.

An eight-grade student at East Burke Middle School who is the defending national middle-school champion in the Archery in the Schools Program, defended her state title last month, posting the highest score of any of the 800 kids from 31 schools who participated in the tournament, held in Winston-Salem.

Burke scored 298 out of a possible 300 points to easily win the girls’ middle-school title, but her score beat all of the high-school competitors. Hudson Lentz of East Burke won the boys’ middle-school title with 283×300, and East Burke won the middle school team.

South Caldwell won the high-school team title, with Alex Beard of Maiden winning the boys’ individual title at 280×300, and Abigail Clark of South Caldwell taking the girls’ crown with 277×300.

Youth fishing event

The Yadkin Valley Wildlife Federation will hold a free, youth trout-fishing event in Yadkinville on Saturday, April 2  at Yadkinville Park, 6600 Service Rd., from 9 a.m.-noon. Hotdogs will be served.

Fishing is open to all aged 15 and under, accompanied by a parent or guardian. RSVP by phone or text to Don Stroud at 336-682-3456.