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Chronic Wasting Disease

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I wanted to talk with y’all a little bit about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). What it is is a contagious disease of the brain and central nervous system that is always fatal to deer. It’s pretty nasty stuff. It’s been on the radar with US Fish and Wildlife for years in other states. But now, it has been found in Florida.

When CWD first originated up north, biologists were in an absolute panic. There are lots of prophetic reports that the deer herds would be wiped out, that hunting would have to be banned, and lots and lots of gloom and doom. None of that happened.

But it has allowed for many new regulations and government oversight, which further eroded our rights as sportsmen, at least up there. Now that it’s been detected here in Florida, it’s now a waiting game as to how our governing agency, the Florida Wildlife Commission, will respond. And boy, are they busy at it!

The first line of defense was to outlaw the importation of deer from other states unless the meat had previously been deboned and processed; skull caps with antlers must be thoroughly cleaned and free of any flesh or any finished taxidermy completed out of state. No big inconvenience, right?

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Currently, they are increasing harvest opportunities in the affected area of our panhandle region, Holmes County. Specifically, they could cull any affected deer or stop the spread. They’re setting up CWD Zones for the region with mandatory check-ins and a program for hunters to donate their deer heads for voluntary testing.

There are additional proposals on the subject, such as outlawing bait sites, mineral licks and even the use of urine-based scents for hunting deer. None of which make a lick of sense, but whatever it takes for the biologists to make themselves feel better. I’d really like to hear your thoughts on the topic.

Now, I have to tell you. Those CWD-infected northern states, where the herds were expected to be wiped out are stronger than ever. It’s not the horror it was predicted to be. And Florida’s CWD panic is based on one deer determined to have been positive in the panhandle… To date, tests have been conducted on nearly eighteen thousand Florida whitetails. All but one tested positive.

As always, I welcome your feedback and hope you’ll reach out to me at [email protected]. God Bless, and good hunting!

Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit
Toby Benoit is a best selling novelist and professional outdoorsman with thirty-five years of experience guiding and outfitting for big game all across America. Toby is a renowned archer and turkey hunting expert who manufactures custom game calls and is a regular judge at NWTF sanctioned turkey calling events across the Southeast.
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