Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a neurological disease in deer, elk, moose and other members of the deer family, known as "cervids." The disease was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado, and has since been documented in captive and free-ranging deer in 21 states and two Canadian Provinces. This disease presents numerous challenges for state wildlife agencies across North America. Of concern is the potential for significant declines within deer, elk, or other susceptible cervid populations. In addition, CWD could have indirect impacts on hunting, hunter participation, and economic benefits derived from big game hunting. In Texas, hunting is a $2.2 billon economic engine, supporting many rural towns across the state.
Because eradication is nearly impossible once CWD becomes established in a population, it is imperative that a sound CWD management program is established to reduce the severity of implications resulting from the disease. Of course, disease prevention is the best approach to protect cervid populations and prevent social and economic repercussions. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) have developed a cooperative CWD management plan to guide both agencies in addressing risks, developing management strategies, and protecting big game resources from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in captive or free-ranging cervid populations.
July 22, 2015
In response to the recent discovery of a Chronic Wasting Disease-positive deer in a Medina County deer breeding facility recently, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) have placed a temporary moratorium on movement of all breeder deer in Texas until a proper risk assessment can be conducted. The risk assessment and epidemiological investigation are ongoing, but both agencies agree that the standards associated with achieving a Certified Status with TAHC appropriately mitigate the risk associated with this event.
Effective Wednesday, July 22, TPWD and TAHC reinstated "Movement Qualified" status for eligible captive deer breeder herds that have achieved "Certified Status" as a TAHC Chronic Wasting Disease-monitored herd. More information about CWD herd certified status, can be found online here (PDF).
TPWD and TAHC are diligently working on standards and protocol for potential relaxation of current movement restrictions for additional deer breeding facilities.
Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan
The Chronic Wasting Disease Management Plan (.doc) will serve to guide Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) in addressing risks, developing management strategies, and protecting big game resources from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in captive or free-ranging cervid populations. Both agencies recognize the need for full cooperation and partnership among government agencies, conservation organizations, private landowners, hunters, and the general public should CWD occur in Texas. CWD is a reportable disease and TAHC has authority for reporting and tracking this disease in alternative livestock, which includes elk, red deer and sika deer. TPWD has regulatory authority for free-ranging white-tailed deer and mule deer, and both agencies share regulatory authority over captive deer held under the authority of Deer Breeder Permits.
This management plan is intended to be dynamic; management strategies described within are likely to change as both the epidemiology and management of this disease become better understood through time. Specific response plans may be developed and incorporated into this plan following local or regional discoveries of CWD. Three major goals of this CWD management plan are:
- Minimize CWD risks to the wild and captive white-tailed deer, mule deer, and other susceptible species in Texas.
- Establish and maintain support for prudent CWD management with hunters, landowners, and other stakeholders.
- Minimize direct and indirect impacts of CWD to hunting, hunting related economies, and conservation in Texas.