LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Gun deer season opens this month and for some of the hunters in north Alabama, you’ll need to go through some extra steps if you harvest a deer.

It’s all to help monitor for Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, out in the Shoals area.

There has been one positive detection of CWD in Lauderdale County so far in 2023. This brings the total to three deer in the area over the past year, according to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR).

Officials say the mandatory sampling is important because a deer with CWD doesn’t always look sick. “So many times, and frankly most often, deer that detect positive for Chronic Wasting Disease appear completely healthy. It takes a long time for a deer to start exhibiting symptoms of illness due to CWD,” Marianne Gauldin with Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries told News 19.

Deer sampling locations are located across North Alabama and as gun season starts, mandatory testing dates will help state officials test a large number of samples and make sure the disease isn’t spreading.

“There are some dates in the Chronic Wasting Disease Management Zone where hunter-harvested deer are subject to mandatory testing and on those particular dates, if you harvest a deer, it will need to be tested for CWD and that will help us get enough samples to help determine the prevalence of the disease in our area,” Gauldin said.

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Those testing dates are November 18-19, 2023, December 2-3, 2023 and January 6-7, 2024.

Outdoor Alabama (ADCNR) asks anyone who sees a sickly deer to report it through their website. They say this will also help with monitoring for CWD.

No case of human disease has been directly linked to CWD. However, the World Health Organization recommends hunters test deer harvested where CWD is known to exist prior to consuming the meat.