CWD, or Chronic Wasting Disease, has had the attention of Louisiana deer hunters for a couple of decades now.

What very few of us ever knew was that this horrific disease has actually been around for a little over fifty years.

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According to the CDC, CWD was first identified in captive deer in a Colorado research facility in the late 1960's, and in wild deer in 1981. By the 1990s, it had been reported in surrounding areas in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming.

If you aren't a deer hunter, you're probably wondering exactly what is CWD or Chronic wasting disease.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries defines it as a neurodegenerative disease of white-tailed deer and other animals of the cervidae family. And yes, it is lethal, and it's a pretty morbid type of death. Health.ny.gov states, "CWD damages portions of the brain and typically causes progressive loss of body condition, behavioral changes, excessive salivation and death."

The disease has been discovered in 26 states and three Canadian provinces.  In a proactive effort to stay ahead of a possible outbreak, LDWF has been sampling for CWD since 2002. To date, more than 12,000 samples have been tested and to date, not a single positive CWD case has ever been discovered.

However this "exempt status" could change based on information the LDWF has just recently released.

Just one week ago, on Thursday, December 2, CWD was discovered in a 2.5 year-old female white-tailed deer in Union County, Arkansas, only 7.5 miles north of the Louisiana border in Arkansas.

In response to the discovery, LDWF voted to implement a declaration of emergency to ban supplemental deer feeding and baiting in nearby Morehouse and Union parishes effective this past Monday, December 6, 2021.

Here's exactly how this portion of the Declaration of Emergency reads:

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is implementing its CWD Response Plan to monitor and curb the spread of CWD into Louisiana. The immediate cessation of all supplemental feeding, including mineral or salt licks, is hereby initiated for Union and Morehouse Parishes. The purpose of this feeding ban is to reduce the potential for the spread of CWD into Louisiana by reducing the risk of exposure when deer are concentrated around feeding sites.

This declaration has raised a number of questions from hunters in the affected area and many other areas across North Louisiana.

Most of those questions, including the question of hunting over an area baited long ago, but some bait is still on the ground, are answered in an exclusive LDWF interview with lakedarbonnelife.com.

One of the biggest concerns other hunters have is that the banned area could expand to include a large portion of the northern part of Louisiana.  One can only assume that would depend on whether or not CWD is ever discovered within the confines of Louisiana.  But, rest assured, 7.5 miles isn't far, and deer don't know where state boundaries lie, so it's much better to be safe than sorry. I guess that's why I would certainly have to agree with the department's stature and applaud their quick response.

Though it's no consolation to a deer dying of this dreaded disease, CWD has never been shown to be contagious to humans, although the Centers for Disease Control recommends that humans not consume known CWD-positive animals, and that people hunting in CWD-endemic areas should have their deer tested for CWD prior to consumption.

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