By Mike Bodenchuk, Editor-at-Large
As the 2016-17 deer seasons ended, it became clear that chronic wasting disease (CWD) is affecting more and more deer herds. Part of this may be that biologists are looking harder. The more you look, the more likely it is that you'll find something.
But CWD is showing up in new areas and in a larger percentage of deer and elk populations than before. CWD was detected in nine new hunt units in Wyoming alone this year. CWD was also found in Missouri and Minnesota, and the rate in Arkansas elk is alarming. CWD currently affects free-ranging deer or elk in 20 states and two Canadian provinces and has been found in captive herds in several other states.
For the hunter who travels, there are two important things to remember about CWD. First, because CWD can be spread by the movement of infected tissue in the spinal column and brain, most states have enacted regulations prohibiting the movement of intact carcasses from states with CWD positive herds. From now on, you need to plan on boning all meat and transporting only skull caps with antlers rather than an entire head. For most, this isn't a problem, but if you hunt across a state line and drive to your hunt, remember to plan extra time to comply with this regulation.
Second, some states are using population reduction hunts to preclude the spread of CWD. Although these hunts are usually held late in the season and are most attractive to locals, the reduction in deer herds can be significant....