Action Alert: Mississippi CWD Management Zone Changes

July 3, 2020 | by National Deer Alliance

At the June Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks (MDWFP) Commission meeting, the MDWFP Commission asked MDWFP Wildlife staff to shrink the current CWD Management Zones from 25-mile radii to 10-mile radii, and implement two 25-mile "surveillance" zones. The CWD Surveillance Zones would have carcass transportation restrictions in place but no ban on supplemental feeding.

CWD spreads most significantly through direct animal to animal contact and animal contact with prions in contaminated environments. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) released a technical report on best management practices for CWD, which recommends a ban on supplemental feeding. This recommendation stems from scientific evidence documenting that baiting and feeding (including mineral licks) causes an unnatural concentration of cervids around bait sites that are additive to natural food sources and facilitate the spread infectious CWD prions through increased animal to animal contact, and contact with contaminated surfaces and soil. There is no doubt among the CWD research community that unnatural concentrations of wildlife can lead to accelerating the spread of CWD in infected cervid populations.

As many states have learned, preventing the spread of CWD is a daunting task and early detection and rapid response once the disease is found is critical for long-term management. Adhering to strict best management practices, like those outlined by AFWA, and following the guidance of expert staff biologists is key to slowing the spread of CWD in Mississippi’s wild deer herd.

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. By shrinking the CWD Management Zones and removing supplemental feeding bans in Surveillance Zones, the MDWFP Commission is significantly hindering the MDWFP’s ability to slow the spread of CWD in Mississippi.  

Fortunately, no changes have been made yet to the CWD Management Zones. The proposed change is open for public comment until July 6. NDA urges its members to submit comments expressing the importance that MDWFP continue to follow the expert guidance of MDWFP staff and national best practices to maintain the current CWD Management Zones at the 25-mile radius, and continue to prohibit supplemental feeding within those CWD Management Zones.

Comments can be submitted in two ways: online by selecting "comment on proposed rules" and selecting "W-40 Miss Admin Code-Part 2-Rule 2.9" or by emailing the Wildlife Bureau chief, Russ Walsh, at [email protected]. Remember, comments must be submitted by July 6.