State officials say cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) have been reported less than 50 miles away from Alabama.
Wildlife officials are asking for help from Alabama hunters in reporting and fighting against the disease. The Alabama division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries held an informational meeting in Decatur on Thursday, raising awareness to hunters about CWD.
Deer hunting season started this week (Bow and arrow only) and Alabama wildlife experts tell WAAY 31 they want hunters to be aware of CWD, a growing problem in many states. Experts say the disease can have a dangerous long term impact on deer populations and ask hunters to get their deer tested this season. They also emphasize hunters need to be following the law and do not transport deer across state lines, as they could be infected.
CWD is a contagious central nervous system disease found in deer, which ultimately kills them. State wildlife officials say it spreads easily. If a deer steps in feces, urine, or even just being in the same environment as an infected deer, it could be infected. They say there is no cure for the fatal disease.
So far, there are no reports of the disease in Alabama, but state officials say cases have been reported in surrounding states.
"Neighboring states, such as Mississippi and Tennessee, have recently shown they have positive deer in their state, therefore, we need to remain vigilant to make sure we keep this disease out of Alabama," Marianne Hudson, with the Alabama division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, said.
Hudson recommends hunters send the head of a deer to testing drop-off locations throughout the state for testing. She says so far, there are no cases of the disease having a health impact on humans, but there are potential concerns.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hunters get their deer meat tested and do not eat it if the results come back positive. Hudson also says hunters can help by following the law. Importing a deer and certain parts from outside the state is illegal.
"It's very important for hunters and wildlife watchers to do their part, by reporting sick deer to us and do not bring live or dead deer across state lines," Hudson said.
Experts tell WAAY 31 you can't just look at a deer and know if it has CWD, but some symptoms to look out for are extreme weight loss, a drooping posture and poor coordination.