By Don Mallicoat-The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is asking whitetail hunters to allow staff to sample their deer harvests this fall for the agency’s statewide Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) surveillance effort. CWD is a fatal disease, although deer may not show symptoms for five years or more. No treatment or cure for CWD exists. Direct, animal-to-animal contact is a means of transmission, but evidence also suggests that contaminated environments present risks. Humans are not known to contract CWD.
Although CWD has not been detected in North Carolina, deer populations have tested positive for the disease in Virginia, West Virginia and 20 other states, as well as two Canadian provinces. The Wildlife Commission conducts surveillance of the white-tailed deer population to monitor for the presence of the disease and prevent its spread if it were detected in the state’s deer population.
The Commission has been conducting CWD surveillance of white-tailed deer since 1999, including two statewide sampling efforts in 2003 and 2008, and smaller scale sub-sampling efforts in other years. The 2013 surveillance effort will be the most extensive yet as Commission staff seeks to collect samples from a minimum of 3,000 deer from across the state. Public assistance in this effort will be essential to help the Commission meet its goal, according to Maria Palamar, the Commission’s wildlife veterinarian. “If you, or someone you know, harvests deer this fall and are willing to donate samples, please contact the Wildlife Commission promptly,” Palamar said. “We’ll collect the brain stem and retropharyngeal lymph nodes to submit for laboratory testing. Collection of these tissues does not interfere with a hunter’s ability to retain the antlers or consume the meat.”
Hunters who want to assist the Commission in this effort should contact their local district wildlife biologists to discuss the collection process. To participate in District 9, Mountain region, contact Justin McVey at 828-273-7980. Hunters can also call the Commission’s Division of Wildlife Management at 919-707-0050. Along with providing an actual tissue sample, you will be asked to provide your name and contact information and the exact location where the deer was killed, the date of the kill, and the sex. Suitable samples can be taken from any deer 1½ years or older. While younger deer (i.e., button bucks) can potentially have the disease, it will not have progressed far enough that it can be detected in the testing.
An important new hunting regulation goes into effect October 1st. North Carolina will allow the use of suppressors on firearms while legally taking wildlife. A suppressor, sometimes referred to as a “silencer,” muffles or minimizes the report of a firearm when it is fired. This statutory change is not reflected in the 2013-2014 North Carolina Inland Fishing, Hunting and Trapping Regulations Digest, which was published by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission prior to the legislation being passed.
A hunter or trapper must meet federal requirements to own a suppressor, which includes registering the device and paying a federal tax, along with a criminal background check processed by the sheriff’s office in the applicant’s county of residence. “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms administers the procedure to own a firearms suppressor,” said Maj. Todd Kennedy, field supervisor for the Commission’s Division of Law Enforcement. “The Wildlife Commission does not have any involvement in the process to obtain a suppressor.”
Hunting season is underway and invariably someone will wait until the last minute to think, “Oh my gosh, we haven’t gotten (enter name) Hunter Safety Training yet.” Believe me it happens, particularly for those going out-of-state to hunt. More and more states are requiring hunter education no matter having a license from your home state. Here are the two scheduled in our area. The first is at Skyland Fire Department October 14 – 16. The next will be at Mars Hill University October 21 – 23. Both classes meet from 6 – 9:30 p.m. all three nights. You can enroll online at www.ncwildlife.org clicking on the Hunting tab at the top.
Let’s look at the open seasons right now. Archery deer season ends this Saturday, September 28th. Muzzleloader season starts the following Monday, September 30th. The first split of dove season continues through October 5th and permits are no longer required at Sandy Mush Game Lands. Your last chance to harvest a Canada goose during the resident goose season will be September 30th. Goose hunting is becoming increasingly popular. We have had quite a few hunters come in the store buying non-toxic shot for geese this month.