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The DNR is concerned about the potential threat deer farming poses to the state’s deer hunting heritage. Nationally the private sector market driven movement of live deer and elk have been responsible for disease outbreaks in free-ranging deer. The threat to West Virginia’s deer population has increased with the recent spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) to states east of the Mississippi River. CWD is a neurological (brain and nervous system) disease found in deer and elk in certain geographical locations in North America. The disease belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) or prion diseases. The disease attacks the brains of infected deer and elk and produces small lesions that result in death. While CWD is similar to mad cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep, there is no known relationship between CWD and any other TSE of animals or people. CWD has not been found in any animals in West Virginia. The WV DNR Wildlife Resources Section, in cooperation with the SE Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study at the University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine, has tested deer from WV for CWD every year beginning in 2000. However, to detect a disease that is present in only a few animals, many more samples need to be tested to be absolutely sure CWD is not present in free-ranging deer in WV. Therefore, the WV DNR is testing a large number of deer for CWD throughout the state and will continue testing as long as the disease threat is present. CWD will not likely be found in West Virginia unless it is transported here. Therefore, the DNR Director has filed emergency rules placing a moratorium on all importation and movement of live deer and elk and mandatory testing of captive deer and elk held on 53 game farms and shooting preserves in West Virginia. For more information on CWD and the fight to keep it out of West Virginia contact any DNR office or visit the Wildlife Resources web site www.wvdnr.gov.
In the 2003 antlerless deer season the DNR proposes that 51 counties, or portions thereof, be open to antlerless deer Class N hunting. The DNR proposes on private land in the 51 counties there be a 22-day split antlerless season, 12 days of which would be concurrent with the traditional bucks-only deer season. Private land in these 51 counties would open from November 24 through December 13, and open again December 24 through December 27. Except for four wildlife management areas, all public land in these 51 counties would be open for a six-day antlerless deer season, December 8 through 13, 2003. On 13 wildlife management areas and in three counties hunters would need to apply for a limited number of antlerless licenses. Eleven counties are proposed to have a one antlerless season deer bag limit and 42 counties or portions would have a three antlerless season bag limit. The total season deer bag limit that can be taken on antlerless Class N licenses in 2003 is proposed to remain the same as that of 2002. For the 2003 deer season, a hunter would be able to take three antlerless deer with Class N antlerless licenses and one antlerless deer on an unfilled RG or RGG additional deer license in designated counties. Again, as in 2002, a split three-day 51 county, or portion thereof, Special Youth and Class Q antlerless deer season is proposed to be held on November 1 and December 22 and 23 on private land and 29 wildlife management areas.
White-tailed deer hunting season regulations for 2003 will be published and available to hunters in July of 2003. This newsprint like pamphlet contains complete information on gun, archery, muzzleloading, and antlerless deer hunting, plus other hunting regulations on turkey, bear, boar, and small game. Hunters will be able to obtain a copy from any DNR office or any business that sells West Virginia hunting licenses or visiting the Wildlife Resources Section web site at www.wvdnr.gov
Written by James M. Crum
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