Action Alert: CWD Rule Changes Open for Comment in Texas

July 14, 2020 | by National Deer Alliance

The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) proposed to amend TAHC rules regarding chronic wasting disease (CWD) on June 23. The amended rules establish CWD Containment Zone (CZ) 4 and CWD Surveillance Zone (SZ) 5 in response to new CWD detections last winter, and the amended rules also expand SZ 3. The Commission is now accepting public comments on the proposed amendments through August 10.

Last December, a free ranging 5.5-year-old female white-tailed deer killed in Val Verde County tested positive for CWD, prompting the proposed establishment of CZ 4. In January, a 4.5-year-old male white-tailed deer and a 3.5-year-old female white-tailed deer killed in Medina County tested positive for CWD. Based on the location of these mortalities, an expansion of SZ 3 is proposed. Finally, in February, TAHC received confirmation that a 5.5-year-old female white-tailed deer held in a deer breeding facility in Kimble County tested positive for CWD. This incident led to the proposed amendment that would establish SZ 5.

The National Deer Alliance (NDA) focuses on policy that impacts deer and hunting, and one of our top priorities is deer diseases, and more specifically, CWD. While there remains much to learn about CWD, we do know that moving deer, dead or alive, can facilitate it's spread. That goes for deer relocations led by wildlife agencies or movements between captive deer facilities given the absence of a reliable live animal test, and transport of carcasses by hunters who can't be immediately sure if their deer is infected. CWD spreads the fastest and the furthest when carried in a vehicle, and that's something that all deer managers and hunters should be concerned about. Texas implemented Containment Zones and Surveillance Zones to reduce the risk that potentially infected animals or animal parts would be transported outside the zones and potentially pose a risk of exposing or spreading CWD to another part of the state. The establishment of CZ 4 and SZ 5, as well as the expansion of SZ 3, helps reduce the risk of spreading CWD by expanding the coverage of CWD regulations in Texas.

NDA encourages its members to submit comments of support for the proposed amendments to TAHC. The deadline to submit comments on the proposed regulation changes is August 10, 2020. Comments must be submitted in writing to Amanda Bernhard, Texas Animal Health Commission, 2105 Kramer Lane, Austin, Texas 78758, by fax at (512) 719-0719, or by email to [email protected]