The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is seeking comments on proposed changes to chronic wasting disease (CWD) detection and response rules. TPWD is putting forth the proposed changes to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) for a vote on Thursday, August 24. Specifically, TPWD is asking the Commission to adopt five proposed amendments, all of which are supported by the National Deer Association (NDA). These amendments would:
- Establish a Containment Zone (CZ) for portions of Hunt and Kaufman counties;
- Establish a new CZ for portions of Bexar County;
- Establish new Surveillance Zones (SZs) in Bexar, Sutton, Zavala, Frio, and Brooks counties;
- Establish additional surveillance requirements for deer breeding facilities where CWD is detected, to include euthanization (within seven days) of deer in which CWD is detected via ante-mortem testing; daily mortality inspections; the immediate reporting of such mortalities; and the testing of mortalities within one business day; and
- Correct existing typographical errors in zone delineations from a previous rulemaking.
Comments are being accepted online HERE. Simply add your name and residence information, scroll to the bottom of the page and select ‘Agree completely,’ and click ‘Submit.’ Online comments will be accepted through 5:00 p.m. on August 23, 2023. Interested individuals can also attend the Commission meeting in-person on August 23-24 to provide verbal comments. The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. each day at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744
The NDA has been advocating for new rules in Texas regarding CWD management, detection and response, particularly surrounding captive and breeder deer facilities. TPWD recently issued emergency rules regarding breeder deer movement, which the NDA supported. The new proposed amendments include additional changes that the NDA and partners have advocated for.
The purpose of CWD zones in Texas is to determine the geographic extent and prevalence of the disease while containing it by limiting the unnatural movement of live CWD-susceptible species as well as the movement of carcass parts. The establishment of new CZs and SZs, and the correction of previous zone delineations, follows the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ (AFWA) Best Management Practices (BMPs) for Prevention, Surveillance, and Management of Chronic Wasting Disease and serve as just that – a tool to prevent, surveil and manage the disease. TPWD has proposed these amendments based on new CWD detections and epidemiological linkages.
The proposed surveillance requirements for deer breeding facilities are another strong tool to prevent, surveil and manage CWD in both captive and wild herds. Removing known CWD-positive deer from the landscape is critical to slow the spread of CWD and reduce risk to wild herds. Ante-mortem (or live-animal) testing does not yet have the power to detect CWD in all positive animals, but a CWD-positive ante-mortem test does provide confidence that the tested individual is indeed infected. Requiring euthanization of individuals determined CWD-positive via ante-mortem testing is a significant tool to reduce disease risk to wild deer. Similarly, the continued surveillance of deer breeding facilities will go a long way in ensuring disease spread and risk is documented as accurately as possible.
The NDA strongly encourages our members and supporters, and especially those who live and/or hunt in Texas, to submit comments online and attend the upcoming Commission meeting. Conserving deer and protecting hunting requires participation in the rooms where wildlife policy and legislation are formed, and this comment opportunity provides the occasion for just that. Learn more about CWD at deerassociation.com/cwd.