Louisiana yet to detect additional positives in control area, state wide CWD sampling

Published 4:33 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2022

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TENSAS PARISH — Louisiana Deer Program Director Johnathan Bordelon had good news after a weekend of Chronic Wasting Disease sampling at Tensas National Wildlife Refuge. No further positives of the infectious 100 percent fatal deer disease have been detected yet. 

He said their surveillance plans at Tensas National Wildlife Refuge led to 64 CWD samples being collected in less than ideal weather conditions. Many of those samples are still pending but there have not been any positive detections yet. 

Tensas Parish is in Louisiana’s Chronic Wasting Disease Management area along with portions of Madison and Franklin Parish. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries confirmed its first case in Tensas Parish close to Yucatan Lake in January of 2021. A goal of 300 samples was set for the area at the start of this hunting season. 

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“We have surpassed our goal and have submitted 341 samples from the control area to the lab,” Bordelon said. “There are no plans to stop sampling as we hope to take advantage of additional samples through the remainder of the season.” 

Hunter harvested deer are sampled at processors, taxidermists and drop off locations. LDWF staff collect the necessary samples from submitted deer heads while cooperating taxidermists collect samples, he said. All samples require hunter consent and once collected a sample is scanned into the LDWF’s database with pertinent information entered. Samples are then shipped off to the Louisiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (LADDL) at LSU for resutls. 

Bordelon said these results are uploaded to an interactive webpage on the LDWF website where hunters can check their results by matching a sample id number. QR codes on the receipt of the hunter card allows quick access to the results for the hunter, he said. 

“In general hunters have been supportive of sampling,” Bordelon said. “The prohibition of baiting has not been well received by many hunters in the control area. In addition, businesses selling bait for deer are also in opposition to the current restrictions.” 

Supplemental feeding through corn, bait and mineral licks are banned in the CWD control area only as they could help the disease spread. Tensas, Franklin and Madison parishes are dominated by agricultural land use which means deer should have plenty of food sources available.

Louisiana continues to monitor for the disease as Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas have multiple CWD positives near the state line. Tensas, Franklin and Madison parishes remain the center of concern. Mississippi’s Issaquena County detected its first CWD positive in 2018 and there was not another nearby detection until a positive was found in Warren County about two miles from the first detection in 2021. 

“While there are no new detections at this point the area is an area of great concern,” Bordelon said. “Parishes adjacent to nearby positives in other states are also a concern. These areas have higher sample goals based on their proximity to known positives.”