Texas is taking no chances with CWD.
Here's some relatively good news for Texas hunters: chronic wasting disease hasn't been detected outside any existing containment zones in over a year. But officials are taking no chances.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is recommending an expansion of the south central CWD containment zone (containment zone 3 or CZ 3), according to a TPWD press release. This zone was established two years ago after the always-fatal neurological disease was first discovered in a free-ranging animal. Prior to that, CWD had only been found in captive Texas deer.
This year, TPWD did 10,421 tests for CWD, with 75 coming back positive. The good news is 55 of those positive tests came from a captive deer breeding facility where officials already knew the disease was present.
"The jump in the number of CWD positives in these particular pen deer is directly correlated to sampling of a large number of deer in one facility where we've known about the existence of this disease for the past three years," TPWD veterinarian Dr. Bob Dittmar said in the press release. "This is likely a symptom of allowing deer to remain in a positive facility, but fortunately, there has not been an increase in the number of CWD-positive facilities."
Seven other CWD-positive cases came adjacent to facilities positive for the disease. Five other discoveries were in panhandle deer (two mule deer and three whitetails). In late December, two more CWD-positive bucks were found in CZ 3. One was an extremely old, 8.5-year-old free-ranging buck. The other came from a captive breeding facility.
In any case, the discovery is prompting the TPWD to ask the commission for an expansion of that zone.
The press release doesn't state how large the expansion of CZ 3 will be if adopted, but more will likely be known once the commission looks at the issue on May 22 during a public hearing.
To date, Texas has recorded 144 CWD-positive deer. It is one of several states to start getting more aggressive towards the deadly disease that affects members of the deer family. Earlier this year the issue of CWD got some rare mainstream coverage when a number of news outlets published misleading stories claiming CWD was a "zombie" disease.