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Whether you are a hunter or just someone who likes to be on the lookout for deer, a deadly disease continues to spread in Texas and it could have a devasting impact on several species of deer in the state.

Chronic Wasting Disease was first discovered in Texas back in 2012. Since then the disease has spread and continues to worry Texas wildlife officials. CWD can have devastating impacts on Texas' native white-tailed and mule deer. Elk and other exotic deer species can be impacted as well. CWD, according to an article from the Huffington Post, is the deer equivalent of "mad cow" and is a brain disorder.

CWD causes brain proteins called “prions” to misfold, leading to a prolonged death by neurodegeneration.

CWD has been found in 32 states including Texas and was first found in 1967 in Colorado according to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Just last year a deer at the Kerr Wildlife Management Area tested positive for chronic wasting disease.

Tetiana Semeno, Unsplash.com
Tetiana Semeno, Unsplash.com

According to the Huffington Post, CWD spread in Texas has "cofounded" officials since 2021. And the spread just continues.

But environmental samples taken through the summer showed diseased prions lurking in feed and water troughs. When wildlife officials live-tested every deer in the herd in October, they turned up another positive. On Nov. 20, they killed all of the roughly 90 deer in the herd, depopulating the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s only deer research facility.

The infection at the Kerr research facility capped off a record year of CWD spread in Texas by raising the same question that has confounded officials since the case count started climbing in 2021: How does the disease keep working its way into new sites, when infected deer aren’t the ones spreading it?

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wants all Texans to become aware of CWD and help curb the spread of the disease. Obviously, hunters, breeders, and landowners are on the front lines of this. TPWD has a website set up and even has an check station in Lubbock and in the Panhandle to deal with questions and sick deer. CWD is hard to see as a healthy looking deer may be infected and the symptoms wouldn't be noticeable until the final months of the deer's life.

Find out more information here.

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