Survey: Most Hunters would Welcome A Rapid Result Test for CWD
The results are clear. Most hunters are concerned about the safety of eating venison, whether that means requiring that deer processed at commercial facilities are tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) before being accepted, or that they will have to process their own deer. It’s also evident that hunters would love to have a CWD field test available to them that yields rapid results on whether or not their deer is infected.
In a recent National Deer Alliance survey, subscribers were asked if they thought it was necessary to certify harvested deer are CWD-free before having it accepted at a meat processing facility. The results were split. Out of the 871 people who responded, approximately 300 people said they were unsure if that was necessary, and the same number of people (34.4%) said this was not a necessary procedure. The remaining 267 people (30.6%) believe that deer should be determined CWD-free before being processed commercially. As one hunter wrote, “I like the idea but I also think it would be expensive and also spread some fear of human consumption of venison. The debate still continues weather or not it is safe to eat with CWD!”
The survey also asked about field testing deer for CWD after harvesting. Subscribers were asked to consider if there was an available and affordable CWD test kit that you could easily pull a sample from your deer for testing while still in the field, what would they consider to be a reasonable amount of time to get results back? Nearly 83% of respondents indicated that they would want test results within one day. Within that group, 28% want their results available instantly. While keeping in mind the extra cost for the test and the potential for spoiling, these results aren’t surprising. As one person asked, “What about the meat in warm early season weather? Would this test take to long that the meat would spoil?” Other hunters expressed concerns about the potential extra costs. “At what cost to the hunter,” asked one respondent, and another commented, “Again, more money.”
Sadly, nearly three percent indicated that they would probably just quit hunting deer because it would be too much of a hassle to get them tested for CWD prior to processing, or consuming them. Although that is a low percentage, it still is alarming that some would rather give up deer hunting all together, as opposed to testing each deer that they harvest to ensure they are free of the disease. One hunter stated, “If CWD ever became really bad in my area, I would consider getting out of deer hunting with a bow or gun and would bring my photography equipment with me instead.” About half of respondents claimed that they would avoid the hassle all together by processing their own deer.
Like it or not, CWD is a reality and we can expect additional requirements for handling and transporting deer that we kill. While a field test for hunters that would yield rapid results is not yet available, it is a high priority for research. The most important thing that deer hunters can do now is continue to educate themselves on the issue, and be prepared to do their part when it comes to controlling the spread of CWD.