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(WHNT) — The first statewide case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was recently detected in Lauderdale County after a sample from a white-tailed deer was confirmed positive.

According to a news release from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR), CWD is a progressive, fatal disease among deer, elk, and moose that results in altered behavior.

“Now that we have detected CWD in Alabama, our primary objective is to determine the prevalence of the disease in the area affected,” said Chuck Sykes, Director of ADCNR’s Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division. “The new regulation is intended to increase the opportunities for hunters to supply samples for CWD testing. We need hunters to continue to hunt and submit deer heads for testing. These additional samples will help us better determine the extent of the disease in this area.”

Animals may carry the disease for years without signs, but as it progresses, the animal may show signs like listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, lack of response, and repetitive walking in a set pattern.

ADCNR has designated all of Colbert and Lauderdale counties as CWD Management Zones. The areas west of U.S. Highway 43 in Lauderdale to the Mississippi and Tennessee state lines and south of the Tennessee River is now a “high-risk zone,” while the remainder of both counties is considered a buffer zone.

Within the CMZ, there will be no seasonal or daily bag limit restrictions and no antler restrictions for deer (antlered and unantlered) harvested on privately-owned or open-permit public lands in Lauderdale or Colbert counties through the remainder of the 2021-2022 deer season. This also includes the Wildlife Management Areas of Lauderdale, Freedom Hills, Riverton, and Seven-Mile Island.

Hunters within the CMZ will be also required to submit heads for CWD from all deer harvested at drop-off freezer locations or at scheduled ADCNR sampling sites.

“It is critical that hunters understand the movement of harvested deer will be limited within the management zone,” an ADCNR statement read. “Deer harvested within the HRZ must remain and be disposed of within the HRZ. Deer harvested within the Buffer Zone must remain and be disposed of within the CMZ.”

“Deboned meat, cleaned skull plates and raw hides with no visible brain or spinal cord tissue may be taken outside of these zones,” the statement continued. “Transporting deer carcasses out of the management zone can potentially spread CWD to currently unaffected areas.”

Hunting license and game check requirements remain in effect for all harvested white-tailed deer.

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