Author: Cassie Gasaway
Deer hunting’s offseason is in session and hunters are shifting their focus from shed hunting to fishing, camping, turkey hunting, and backyard barbecues. Meanwhile, chronic wasting disease persists, whether we think about it or ignore it.
“Unfortunately, CWD doesn’t stop,” said Nick Pinizzotto, president/CEO of the National Deer Alliance. “We can assume that while we’re talking about this, additional deer will get infected. That’s the nature of the disease. It’s contagious and always spreading. There’s no offseason, and we shouldn’t expect any declines anytime soon.”
Although media and everyday hunters might take the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” approach, the NDA and state wildlife agencies keep working to slow CWD’s spread through education and regulations.
State wildlife agencies continually monitor for CWD and analyze test data to craft strategic sampling efforts and sometimes special regulations for autumn hunts. Because of CWD’s persistent and contagious nature, Pinizzotto said CWD regulations can change quickly from the previous year. He encourages ATA members and the hunting public to stay informed and understand the rules.
The NDA, meanwhile, strives to provide hunters good CWD information through a comprehensive education-and-outreach campaign.
The NDA created an educational video about CWD for Pennsylvania that features deer hunters and CWD experts from Wisconsin to describe what happens when states don’t take CWD seriously. This was one of the early projects that initiated NDA’s CWD Resource Center, which provides accurate and timely information about CWD to deer hunters using videos and hunter-focused articles. NDA followed the initial video project by creating a video series of the 14 most commonly asked questions about CWD, which launched on April 10. These can all be viewed from the NDA website or on the organization’s YouTube channel. These efforts support the NDA’s mission to be a prominent, comprehensive and credible source on issues affecting North America’s deer.
“We’re trying to get hunters used to the idea that this is the new normal,” Pinizzotto said. “There’ll probably never be a day in our lifetime where we’ll say CWD is over. It’s something we’ll have to continually manage and deal with, and learn to be comfortable with.”
Visit the NDA’s YouTube channel to watch the videos.
Pinizzotto said CWD affects everyone, including those in CWD-free states, especially if they travel to hunt areas with CWD and risk bringing it home when they return. He said hunters must shift how they do things to protect other herds from the disease.
Use testing sites to help CWD efforts. Photo Credit: National Deer Alliance
Your Role in Fighting CWD
Pinizzotto said ATA members play vital roles in the fight against CWD. They should learn all they can about the disease, study state regulations for care and transport of deer, and share only scientifically sound information about CWD.
“Shop owners are often looked at as local experts,” Pinizzotto said. “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of miscommunication out there about CWD. If [shop owners] know the correct, accurate information on CWD, they’ll be better armed to share the right information.”
Pinizzotto encourages ATA members to learn their state’s 2020 regulations, and share the NDA’s information about CWD. Click here to subscribe to the NDA’s free e-newsletter to stay informed on CWD and other deer-related issues.
You can then be your community’s information source. Post or link CWD news and information to your website and social media, and inform folks about state-sponsored CWD meetings. If customers ask questions you can’t answer, direct them to experts at the NDA or CWD Alliance.
Pinizzotto encourages ATA members to share the NDA’s video series on CWD. The ATA also created a CWD flyer for its members to print and share with customers. Members can also hang the flyer it where it’s easily seen in their shop. To download the resources, log in to your MyATA member dashboard and click “Download Free ATA Resources.” Search for “CWD” to easily located the materials.
“Support the effort,” Pinizzotto said. “People often get upset with wildlife managers who have to deal with CWD, but the disease is the enemy. There’s nobody to blame or fault. If you want to direct your anger, point it toward the disease, and do what you can to slow its spread.”