With the now-confirmed discovery of chronic wasting disease in West Tennessee, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is implementing its CWD Response Plan. Part of the Plan is keeping the citizens informed as this critical situation develops. Get updates by signing up for emails on: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/TNWRA/subscriber/topics?qsp=TNWRA_1

The TWRA will answer all questions and messages as soon as possible. Here is the entire response plan if you are interested in knowing what the state of Tennessee is going to do: https://www.tn.gov/.../15-12_TWRA_CWD_Response_Plan.pdf . Following is the original press release (abbreviated and updated) from the TWRA:

TWRA press release, Dec. 14, 2018: The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is enacting the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Response plan, following a preliminary positive detection of CWD in three white-tailed deer in Hardeman and seven in Fayette counties. Additional samples are being tested. (Update: As of Dec. 20 an additional three CWD cases have been reported in this area, bringing the total to 13.]

“Hunters are our biggest ally in managing chronic wasting disease in Tennessee if it is confirmed here,” said Dr. Dan Grove, Wildlife Veterinarian, University of Tennessee Extension. “Besides submitting deer from the to-be-defined CWD Zone, the most important thing everyone needs to do is follow the regulations for moving harvested deer.

Although CWD has no known risk to the health of humans or livestock, it is a contagious and deadly neurological disorder that affects members of the deer family. It is transmitted through animal-to-animal contact, animal contact with a contaminated environment, and with contaminated feed or water sources. It is the most significant threat to the deer population nationwide, as it is 100 percent fatal to deer and elk.

Wildlife agencies across the country are working to inform the public about CWD, its deadly results and possible impacts to economies.

Currently, 25 states (now 26 including Tennessee) and three Canadian provinces have documented CWD. Last week Mississippi announced a preliminary CWD positive hunter-harvested deer in Marshall County which became the closest to Tennessee and the fourth overall this year in Mississippi. Other confirmed cases have previously been made in the border states of Arkansas, Missouri, and Virginia.

More information about CWD, including cervid import restrictions, and videos that explain how to properly dress an animal before transporting, can be found on www.tnwild life.org.

DEER: The rifle deer season ends on Jan. 6 in all big game units. In Unit L doe hunting on private lands is extended from Monday, Jan. 7 through Friday, Jan. 11; the doe limit in Unit L continues to be three per day.

The second Young Sportsman Deer Hunt is Jan. 12-13. Hunters ages 6-12 are eligible and must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult (21 years or older). One adult may supervise more than one hunter. The bag limit for bucks is two for all units (one buck per day), but not to exceed the state maximum of two bucks per year. The bag limits for does vary: Units A, B, C, and D are two; and Unit L is three per day.

BEAR: It is already a record bear harvest for Tennessee.

As of Dec. 20, the count is at 743 with 10 days left in the season.

The old record was 589 set in 2011. A complete breakdown of the 2018 harvest will follow after the season ends.

EAGLES: Many bald eagles winter in Tennessee. The nationwide 2019 Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey is Jan. 1-15; the important focus dates are Friday and Saturday, Jan. 4-5. The purpose of the count is to monitor the status of bald eagle wintering populations in the contiguous United States (lower 48).

The best way for Tennesseans to help is to find and report eagle nests. The Tennessee state ornithologist, and coordinator for the entire survey, is David Hanna. He keeps a data base of nests in Tennessee and tracks the population of breeding pairs. Bald eagle nests have increased from a single occupied nest in 1983 to more than 200 nests in 2016.

Public input is quite helpful in keeping an accurate inventory of identified nests. Sighting information can be sent via e-mail to david.hanna@tn.gov or by phone at 615-781-6653. The information requested includes: Name and address or telephone number of observer, date, time and place of observation (with coordinates), and species observed if any.

In 2007 the bald eagle was removed from the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of threatened and endangered species. Since 1980 more than 350 young bald eagles have been released in Tennessee.

Email wiest.tom@gmail.com to share with your news and comments with Tom Wiest.

Tom Wiest is a long time columnist on all matters outdoors. He welcomes news, questions and comments from readers.

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