Zombie deer steadily approaching Texas

SAN ANTONIO (WOAI/KABB) – Our worst fears have come true. Zombie Deer are real and they’re coming for us (well, kind of).

According to a recent post in the Daily Mail, a disease known as Chronic Waste Disease (CWD) commonly known as “Zombie Deer disease” has been reported in 24 US states and two Canadian provinces. The illness attacks the brain, spinal cord,and other tissues in deer, elk and moose. Ultimately before CWD kills the animal, they first start to lose weight rapidly. Additionally, their coordination becomes unbalanced, and they may become aggressive.

On their website, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that while CWD has not affected humans, there is a concern that people who come in contact with infected animals may potentially be at risk of infection.

“To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in people. However, animal studies suggest CWD poses a risk to some types of non-human primates, like monkeys, that eat meat from CWD-infected animals or come in contact with brain or body fluids from infected deer or elk. These studies raise concerns that there may also be a risk to people.”

CDC released a map, marking in red, where there have been reports of CWD in the U.S. Compared to northern states, the illness does not seem to pose much of a threat in Texas. Nonetheless, the map reveals a small outbreak in Hill country including Dallam, El Paso and Medina.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a map of the U.S. indicating in red, where Zombie deers have been spotted and reported. (PHOTO: CDC)

CDC’s website also claims that while the occurrence of CWD is comparatively small, it is nothing to ignore.

“Nationwide, the overall occurrence of CWD in free-ranging deer and elk is relatively low. However, in several locations where the disease is established, infection rates may exceed 10 percent (1 in 10), and localized infection rates of more than 25 percent (1 in 4) have been reported. The infection rates among some captive deer can be much higher, with a rate of 79% (nearly 4 in 5) reported from at least one captive herd.”

Fortunately, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TWPD) has already taken precautions of CWD. In fact, their website exclusively mentions the first outbreak of CWD in Texas “was found in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer in the Hueco Mountains of far West Texas.” Since then, TWPD’s website says, they’ve set up regulations to ensure a smooth capture of deer that may be susceptible to CWD.

“With the discovery of CWD in a captive deer breeding facility in south-central Texas, the Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) Commission adopted comprehensive CWD Management Rules on June 20, 2016. Developed through a collaborative process that involved substantial stakeholder input, these rules address CWD management associated with permitting programs that authorize intensive deer management activities.”

The website also emphasizes how committed TWPD is in combating CWD through their extensive plan.

“This management plan is intended to be dynamic; management strategies described within are likely to change as both the epidemiology and management of this disease become better understood through time. Specific response plans may be developed and incorporated into this plan following local or regional discoveries of CWD. Three major goals of this CWD management plan are:
1. Minimize CWD risks to the wild and captive white-tailed deer, mule deer, and other susceptible species in Texas.
2. Establish and maintain support for prudent CWD management with hunters, landowners, and other stakeholders.
3. Minimize direct and indirect impacts of CWD to hunting, hunting related economies, and conservation in Texas.”

Click here to track TWDP’s capture of deer diagnosed with CWD. To learn more about how TWPD is tackling CWD, visit their website.