Thursday, 11 October 2018 16:27

State wildlife officials working to keep deadly deer disease at bay Featured

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STATEWIDE - For the first time, a deadly deer disease has been found in Quebec and now Maine wildlife officials are taking steps to stop it from spreading into the state.

Until Thursday, hunters were allowed to bring a full deer carcass from Quebec into Maine. But as part of an effort to keep chronic wasting disease out of the state, that is no longer the case.


"It has to be boned out meat. A finished taxidermy mount, tanned hide. Things without the infectious tissues attached," Nathan Bieber, wildlife biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, said Thursday.


Bieber said when a deer becomes infected, chronic wasting disease is always fatal. However, he said, a deer might not show signs of the disease infection for nearly 16 months after being infected.


"The deer will be emaciated. It may be listless, with its head drooping. It may be swaying. You'll see frequent urination. Salivation. There may even be grinding of its teeth," Bieber said.


So far, the chronic wasting disease has not been found in Maine. In fact, Bieber said Maine's deer population is healthy and growing, especially in southern Maine


"Right now, this is just a precautionary measure. We don't even know the extent of the issue in Quebec," he said.


Every year, state wildlife biologists take samples from nearly 500 deer. Those samples are tested for chronic wasting disease.


"Deer from the hunter kill. So these will be deer that are present at registration stations or brought into a field office," Bieber said. "And we will excise a lymph node from those deer so we can send them to a laboratory for CWD testing."


Contact with the saliva, feces or urine of an infected deer is how the disease spreads from animal to animal, according to Bieber. To that end, Bieber suggests hunters should reconsider using urine-based lures.


"If you are going to use them, put them well above ground level so the deer can't come into direct contact with those urine products.


Currently, deer hunting is open to archers only but on Oct. 29, the firearms season begins. It ends on Nov. 24.

TJ Tremble

Assistant News Director/Reporter
[email protected]

T.J. Tremble joined WVII ABC 7 and WFVX FOX 22 in March 2016.

He was raised in Bangor, attended Bangor schools and graduated from John Bapst High School. He attended the University of Maine, s...