CWD in Primates: Can Humans Get CWD?


The $10,000 question: “Can humans get Chronic Wasting Disase (CWD) from eating infected venison?” The fact is that meat from deer contaminated with CWD may be more dangerous than originally thought, according to ongoing research.

Stefanie Czub, of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), and the University of Calgary, has documented CWD infections in monkeys. During the study, which began in 2009, 18 macaques were exposed to CWD in a variety of ways: by injecting into the brain, through contact with skin, oral administration and intravenously.

CWD Contracted by Monkeys

So far, results are available from 5 animals, according to a release from the CFIA. At this point, 2 animals that were exposed to CWD by direct introduction into the brain, one that was administered infected brain material orally and two that were fed infected meat all have become infected with CWD.

“The ‘supposed’ resistance of macaques was about the only prop remaining in the complacency wall (macaques’ genetics are closer to ours than squirrel monkeys, which also can contract CWD), but this is just the tip of the iceberg. The implications to markets are enormous, and governments here may have finally begun to take notice,” said Darrel Rowledge, director of the Alliance for Public Wildlife in an interview.“

Consumption of CWD-Infected Venision

CWD is a sister disease to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE — the infamous “mad cow disease” that killed 229 people in the United Kingdom — and is an incurable, always fatal degeneration of the brain, according to an analysis published by the Alliance for Public Wildlife. It was first documented in captive mule deer in the late 1960s.

Estimates show 7,000 to 15,000 CWD-infected animals are being consumed by humans every year, according to the analysis, and these sort of prior diseases are known for jumping between species barriers.

“Results of CWD laboratory challenges of non-human primates are mixed,” the analysis said. “CWD transferred readily to squirrel monkeys orally (92 percent), but macaques, which are genetically closer to humans than squirrel monkeys, have demonstrated significant resistance, even to direct intracerebral injection. It should be noted, however, that recently macaques were shown to be susceptible to scrapie, but only after an extended, silent incubation of ten years.”

CWD and Hunters

The news about CWD in primates has many in the hunting community concerned. Tim Donges, president of the Quality Deer Management Association’s Bluestem branch, recently spoke out about urgency by decision-makers after hearing the recent reports.

“I was in the meeting in Texas with Darrel Rowledge and he is very concerned about public safety,” Donges said. “Once the first human is thought to have contracted CWD, we could see fallout in the ag market because of food safety concerns. This is becoming a very serious situation. I do not see a way to stop the spread. The U.S. government has bought deer farms contaminated by CWD and are considered contaminated super sites.”

Donges said the government has tried several means of containing the disease, including radiation, burning the soil in furnaces and formaldehyde, with no success.

Spread of CWD

“CWD prion can be moved by wind blowing dust or rain water moving contaminated soil,” Donges stated. “Scavengers such as vultures, crows, coyotes, mice, opossum, etc., can move the prions. I have seen a vulture in Kansas that was tagged by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it migrated from Venezuela to Marion County, Kan. Deer hunters could move contaminated carcasses from a CWD area such as northwest Kansas to another state or another part of Kansas and spread the disease. Captive deer farmers (could be) moving live infected deer. Prions can come up through plants and other animals or humans could digest it.”

He said he has suggested to the National Deer Alliance that the organization go to Washington, D.C., and lobby for implementation of the “Deer Hunting and Conservation Act,” which would pull in resources from the USFWS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior to combat the disease.

Twenty-four states now have reported CWD. The population model suggests that some day we will no longer hunt deer species in North America. The best thing hunters can do at this point is to start having their deer tested for CWD prior to consumption in order to protect themselves until we can learn more. We should not be moving carcasses around to other parts of the state or country.

Early Season Whitetail Hunting Means Safety First!

With white-tailed deer hunting seasons across the country ramping up soon there is no better time than now to mention safety, tree stand safety in particular. Have you been prepping for deer hunting all summer long, but safety has yet to cross your mind? Well, it’s ideal that tree stand safety be considered before the start of deer season.

“Each hunting season we see people getting seriously hurt after falling from a tree stand during the archery and gun season,” said Dave Stowe, an official that follows hunting accidents across the US. “A little prep can help avoid most injuries and fatalities experience by our whitetail hunters.”

Bowhunting can help control urban deer populations

Taking simple precautions can prevent injuries and ensure that hunters return home safe and sound. Tree stand safety recommendations include:

  • Check belts, chains, bolts and attachment cords for damage and wear before use.
  • Be sure to select a healthy, straight tree for your tree stand.
  • Use a full-body safety harness properly at all times.
  • Set up the stand with another person, or at least let someone know where you’re setting up ahead of time.
  • Bring an emergency signal device, such as a cell phone or a whistle.
  • Never carry anything as you climb — use a haul line to raise and lower equipment.
  • Maintain three points of contact when climbing up or down a stand (most falls occur during this time).
  • Don’t exceed manufacturer’s maximum height or weight settings.

“Tree stand hunting accidents are for the most part avoidable,” Stowe state. “Each and every hunter should conduct a safety check of their tree stands at the start of every whitetail hunting season.” It’s good advice to take, especially if you plan on hunting next year, and the year after that.

Driving Deer: Pushing White-tailed Deer is Legal

Deer Hunting Comment: “I know why there is deer pushing in Iowa, but I look on it as slaughter of whatever moves. And in my eyes deer drives are not the sport of hunting at all. If Iowa legislature seems to think this is necessary then maybe they should allow drives once a year (one weekend). Then, the landowner needs to apply for a permit and every person the land owner has participating needs to be accounted for and checked for a permit.

It is ridiculous deer hunters have to holler and tromp the timber and scare the deer herd out into a clearing to be ambushed by a line of hunters standing in the clearing to shoot whatever comes out. I have nothing against hunting white-tailed deer, but as I said prior this is NOT hunting. I have contacted the DNR and all I got was an explanation of why hunters are allowed to drive and push deer.

Landowners that enjoy the sport of deer hunting in tree stands, and have family and friends that teach their kids to hunt this way, want fair chase. Deer hunting is ruined by these people that back up to the fence lines and commence pushing with their groups, while across the fence where the tree stands are set up.

I am hoping this way of slaughter is either stopped or better managed. Also, some people hike in the winter and even though they shouldn’t be hiking on private land, it does happen, and this puts them in danger.” Continue reading Driving Deer: Pushing White-tailed Deer is Legal

Deer Rut in Brown County Texas

Question: “Got a new deer hunting lease in Brown County, Texas, this year and am looking forward to chasing whitetail. I will be getting to head to my deer lease this coming weekend for the very first time this year. Not familiar with rut activity up there, so looking for a little help. Has there been any rut activity seen, or did I already miss it being that it’s late November? Thanks for any hunting help you can give me.”

Response: I work with several ranches in Callahan, Taylor, and a few others counties up that way. Most of the whitetail rutting activity is usually observed around the last week of October or the first week of November. We actually saw a lot of bucks chasing earlier in the month, so the primary rut is, unfortunately, over in that part of Texas. But don’t let that stop you from getting in the field. Continue reading Deer Rut in Brown County Texas

Whitetail Deer Hunting in Lampasas County Texas

Question: “I have been whitetail hunting for years, but recently got on a deer lease located in Central Texas, actually in Lampasas County. The ranch is about 7 miles north of the town of Lampasas on 183. I know the center of the state has quite a few deer, but am not familiar with Lampasas County. The property looked good and the other hunters say the hunting is good. They have been feeding protein and selectively harvesting bucks. Any ideas on deer hunting in Lampasas County?”

Response: Deer hunting can vary quite a bit in different parts of a county, but Lampasas County has good numbers of deer over most of it. The west-central part of the county can have some open areas, but even the wooded areas hold deer. Good bucks have come out of every county in Texas. The biggest factor for deer management is food availability and bucks that are allowed to get old. Take care of these two things and your deer lease will be great. Continue reading Whitetail Deer Hunting in Lampasas County Texas

Deer Diseases: EHD Impacts Hunting in Pennsylvania

The white-tailed deer hunting season is almost here, but hunters may find a few less deer in the woods this year, especially in Pennsylvania. State officials announced that test results from a wild whitetail deer have confirmed that epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) has been found in Northampton County in August. A this time, wildlife personnel is encouraging anyone finding a dead or sick deer to call their respective Game Commission region office.

EHD is a common but sporadic disease in white-tailed deer populations of the United States, and is contracted by the bite of insects called biting midges. In more northern states, EHD occurs less often and affected deer are less likely to mount an effective immune response. The deer virus usually kills the deer quickly, within five to 10 days. The disease is not spread from deer to deer by contact. While EHD is not infectious to humans, deer displaying severe symptoms of EHD are usually not suitable for consumption because of the rapid deterioration of the meat and secondary bacterial infection. Continue reading Deer Diseases: EHD Impacts Hunting in Pennsylvania

Review: Deer Smoke Screen Eliminates Odor

One of the biggest factors impacting the success of whitetail hunting is odor elimination—or better stated, scent control. A new product on the market that claims to eliminate alarming downwind scent is Deer Smoke Screen. A few days ago, I received the opportunity to try this this product free of charge. It arrived well-packaged on Saturday. Sunday was my testing day and my goal was not to influence the results one way or another, but rather only give a fair and accurate account of my experience with the product.

Fellow hunters, take from it what you will. I arrived at my deer lease at before sunrise with hog hunting on my mind. There was a small tank that had been covered in hog sign, so I knew where I wanted to set up. There are no game cameras in this area so I did not know when these pigs were frequenting the water source. I got settled in, unloaded a few supplies and I was ready for the hunt. I wanted to test this product prior to the deer hunting season and we all know that pigs have darn good sniffers too. Continue reading Review: Deer Smoke Screen Eliminates Odor

Whitetail Deer Hunting: South Texas Habitat Hanging On

The southern portion of Texas can be classified as a place that does not receive a whole lot of rain, but it is also known for outstanding whitetail deer hunting. Much of South Texas is positioned within a semi-arid desert area that expects only 22 to 24 inches of rainfall each year and whitetail living in the area are well adapted. When the rains do fall, they are unpredictable at best. There are portions of South Texas that have only received 1 inch of rain in the last 180 days!

Deer habitat conditions are bad, but could get much worse if summer rains do not fall and offer some relief for hungry, thirsty deer. Living, working and managing whitetail deer through a dry spell is always a concern. Planning ahead to lessen the impacts of drought conditions is important to any ranching or whitetail hunting operation. This is especially important when forecasts indicate a hot, dry summer may be in store for South Texas and the wildlife found there. Here are a few guidelines that may lessen the impact of a below-average rainfall year on your ranch. Continue reading Whitetail Deer Hunting: South Texas Habitat Hanging On