The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission has approved amendments to chronic wasting disease (CWD) management response rules based in part on discovery of the disease in a free-ranging white-tailed deer west of San Antonio. The changes address containment and surveillance measures, and permitted movement of live deer, in portions of Bandera, Medina, and Uvalde counties as well as zone delineations in the northwest Panhandle.
Last year, the Commission established a CWD Surveillance Zone (SZ) in portions of Bandera, Medina, and Uvalde counties as a result of CWD being confirmed in permitted deer breeding facilities in the area. A containment Zone (CZ) was not established in this area because the disease had been detected only in permitted deer breeding facilities or their adjacent release sites, all of which had been issued hold orders or quarantines by Texas Animal Health Commission; these measures included requirements that satisfied the need for a CZ. This particular SZ was exempted from mandatory sampling and carcass movement restrictions in lieu of a local voluntary hunter and landowner effort to submit samples.
However, CWD was subsequently detected in a free-ranging white-tailed deer within that SZ, which introduced an epidemiological imperative to designate that area as a CZ by emergency rule and require CWD testing and restrictions on movement of live deer and hunter-harvested deer. The new rules replace the emergency rules and establish as a CZ all land located within two miles of the property boundaries where CWD has been detected in permitted deer breeding facilities, and within five miles of the approximate location where the CWD-positive free-ranging whitetail was harvested. A SZ is proposed for all land that does not fall within the proposed CZ, but is surrounded on the north by F.M. 470, on the east by F.M. 462, on the south by U.S. Highway 90 and the west from the intersection of U.S. 90 and the Sabinal river, following the river north to the intersection of F.M. 187 and north along F.M. 187 to F.M. 470.
Amendments to the SZ delineations in the northwest Panhandle extending the zone east of the cities of Amarillo and Dumas have also been adopted by the Commission to make sample submission and carcass disposal more convenient for hunters.
The new rules also provide greater latitude for permitted movement of live deer as it relates to CWD containment and surveillance zones. Under these new provisions, permitted movement of captive deer into a CZ or SZ may occur, as well as movement within the zones by permit holders having Transfer Category 1 or 2 status provided certain guidelines are met. Harvest on release sites must be equal to or exceed the number of breeder deer introduced that year and deer may be released from TC 2 facilities to an adjacent release site once “Not Detected” tonsil biopsy test results are obtained.