What to know about CWD

Show Notes

This week on the Oklahoma Outdoors Podcast, John discusses the discovery of the first CWD positive whitetail in Oklahoma. It did not come as much of a surprise to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, as every state surrounding Oklahoma has had a positive Chronic Wasting Disease case in recent years. So what happens now?

This episode is not a scientific evaluation of CWD and its future effects of the Oklahoma deer herd. Instead, this episode is simply meant to inform listeners about what has happened in the past, what is happening in the present, and to prepare Oklahoma sportsmen and women for the future. It's not time to hit the panic button just yet! John discusses the history of CWD in Oklahoma, the recent case that has been confirmed, and a few precautions the wildlife department is putting into place. There will definitely be another episode in the near future with someone who is far more informed than John, but he felt that this news was important enough to be addressed immediately.

Check out the Sportsmen's Empire Podcast Network for more relevant outdoor content!

Show Transcript

[00:00:00] Hey guys and gals, welcome to the Oklahoma Outdoors Podcast, brought to you by Arrowhead Land Company. Here you'll be educated, entertained, and equipped to get more out of your outdoor experience. So hold on tight because here we go.

What's up folks? Welcome to the show. All right. I'm gonna be real honest with y'all. This is like my seventh take. I think of this intro. It's super hard. I think I've complained about this at least twice before. Coming up with a new interesting, like intro is just, it's just hard. I've done like 150 something of these and keeping it fresh and new and cool and all that stuff.

It's harder than you might think, so I'm keeping this one no matter what. Y'all are just gonna have to deal with it. And welcome to the show. [00:01:00] So with that being said, welcome guys. Just a few quick things to get into before we get into the real show. Nothing super important. I did get a really nice surprise yesterday.

A random little thunderhead popped up completely out of nowhere and dumped a half inch of rain. On my soybeans that I've been bragging about. So all that to say, so far so good. Good Lord, keep it up. That would be great. If we could just get a half inch to an inch every, week or two, that would just be fantastic.

I hope those listening also got that rain. I'm sure people everywhere are needing it. So that was super cool. I feel like I did something interesting this last weekend, but I can't think of it. Oh, we took some of our friends out to the ranch didn't really do a whole lot. Got to show them some cows.

They got to feed a bottle, calf, hold a chicken, that type of thing. So that was pretty fun. And this coming weekend, we have more family activities. It seems like we've had a lot of those lately. We're taking my nieces and nephews to a waterpark for their birthday, [00:02:00] and so that's gonna be really fun. And then the following weekend, I'm pretty sure my math is right on this.

I think the following weekend is Father's Day. And all I asked for from my wife was a weekend to go to the ranch and just sit on the tractor all day. Pretty much. I, yeah, I know I've talked about this in the past. It sounds like something straight outta the Farmer's Almanac. It sounds like witchcraft.

But I heard somewhere, and I wish I could remember where it was. I remember hearing on a podcast several years ago that if you mow native grass around the summer equinox, it helps it basically grow back healthier, fuller. And can, help kick out some of the grasses that you don't want. And so I actually tried this, it's probably been three years ago now, and it actually worked fantastic and so haven't been able to do, I think the two years ago.

I think just everything was broke down last year, didn't have time with the baby. Being born and but this year, like that's all I want for Father's Day. Just [00:03:00] so happens that Father's Day, I think is the weekend before the summer equinox, so I'm gonna be within a couple days. I think that's good enough.

And so as opposite sounds and as hocus pocus as that sounds, that's what I wanna do for Father's Day. And so that's what I have planned coming up in about two weeks. Soybeans were looking great. I, gosh I don't think I talked about this when I talked about my soybeans. I don't think I got a good stand of my switch grass.

I'm not quite ready to give up on it. I know it's a little bit slow growing. And to be honest, I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for, what I'm looking for, switch grass. But there's just not much of anything growing in the areas where I planted it. And so I really don't know what I did wrong. The only thing I can think of is that when I ran back over it.

With the plow, but I had the, all the blades going straight forward. It wasn't cutting or anything like that. But the only thing I can think of is that I turned a little bit too much dirt over the top of it. And I don't know if that [00:04:00] killed it or if it just hasn't broke the surface yet because it has to go further or what.

So I'm not quite giving up on it, but as of right now, it's not looking like I have a switch grass stand. Very unfortunate. I put a lot of time and work into that. If it does not turn out, if the summer comes around, it's very obvious that nothing's growing, I do wanna try to do something because that's gonna be, I think, a very vital part of my strategy this year is having all my plots screened.

And so my backup plan is, let's say, July gets here, which is coming up. Let's say July gets here and nothing's growing. I'm probably just gonna get, I think we have some leftover. Sudan and I'm probably just gonna throw that in the drill and drag that across. And that grows very well in the summer.

Fairly drought tolerant. It'll grow up nice, six feet tall, for those of you aren't familiar with it. It's basically, it's like hay grazer. It's basically corn without the corn. On it, it's like the corn stalks basically, so it grows real tall and thick. And so yeah, if the switch grass isn't looking good, that's my backup plan.

So it'd probably be okay without it. But [00:05:00] every little bit you can help yourself. Might as well do it. So anyway, that's the update with all the habitat work. I told y'all didn't get to burn this spring. Pretty upset about that. But with the soybeans and everything so far, things are looking really good for this upcoming year.

Just pray that the rain keeps up. So yeah, that's pretty much the updates and the what's going on and the what's happenings. I don't wanna drag this intro out too long because we have a very important episode today, and I don't wanna get into it too much now because we're gonna talk about it obviously in the episode, but, Yesterday, this is just yesterday as at the time of this recording, we had a positive test for C W D Pop up in Oklahoma.

And so because it's been so quick and everything, I wasn't able to scramble get a guest on this evening, and so it's just gonna be me. I don't have an authority on this or anything, but my goal for this episode is just kinda to go back in time a little bit. And just look at C W D and Oklahoma has it been here, has it not?

I had JD [00:06:00] Strong on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Director on last year. We talked about it some there was a case close to Oklahoma that will mention. And so again, yeah, like I said I wasn't gonna talk too much about it, and here I am going on and on about it so yes.

My goal with this episode is just to do a little bit of education, a little bit of where we're at. I don't wanna speak in absolutes because there's a very good chance that as this thing progresses, things will either change or get updated. And so I'm not here to lay down the law necessarily of these are the facts.

I just want to educate people. With what's going on, because this is a very important topic. No matter where you stand on C W D, whether you think it's made up or whether you think it's the end of the world, we're just gonna cover a little bit from all sides, all angles, and talk about where we stand.

And so that's the goal for this episode. Again, I'm gonna shut up now. We'll get into it in the actual episode. We're gonna hear a quick word from our partners and then we'll get into some talk about C W D E. [00:07:00] Arrowhead Land Company continues to grow and they wanna bring you along for the ride. They have agents all over the state ready to help you with all your land buying or selling needs, big or small for business or for personal use.

It doesn't matter if you want to buy or sell land in Oklahoma. Arrowhead Land Company is there to help make your dreams become a reality. There is truly no place like the great outdoors in Oklahoma. When you're out in the wild, you want your wireless devices to work unlike other carriers. Bravado Wireless believes that coverage in rural areas is important so that you stay connected with competitively priced plans and coverage where you need it.

The mission of Bravado Wireless is to keep you connected no matter where you are. Visit bravado wireless.com or check them out at one of their retail locations. Bravado Wireless, the power of connection. All righty. Here we go folks. I am going to do my best to speak slowly and clearly, which is not always my strong suit, [00:08:00] but yeah, I really want to try to get some good points across.

I also want to remind you guys, I am not a scientist. I am not a doctor or a biologist or anything like that. Just a passionate outdoorsman who cares about the wildlife in my area. In even other areas, just wildlife in general. And yes, I just wanted to point that out before we go on. So again, I've been saying C W D, that's what we're talking about today.

I should clarify for just in case somebody doesn't know that is chronic wasting disease. And so right off the bat, I wanna give a nice, clear definition so that we know what we're talking about, what we're dealing with here. So this is from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation website. And CW D is a nor neurological disease that affects the brains of elk, deer, moose, and other members of the deer family creating holes that resemble those in sponges.

It is always fatal to the animal and no treatment or vaccine against C W D exists at this time. CW [00:09:00] D has been confirmed in wild deer and elk surrounding in surrounding states, including Texas, New Mexico. Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas. Now, as of yesterday, Oklahoma is officially on this list, and that is why we're here today talking about it.

And so yes, that's what we're dealing with here. In this same article, it does a great job of kind of talking about the history of CWD in Oklahoma. Oklahoma, or sorry, CW D was first found in Oklahoma in 1998. In a captive elk herd that was brought in from Montana. Once that elk herd had a single positive test, they neutralized the entire herd and they monitored the wildlife around that area for several years, and nothing else ever came from it.

No, no other animal got that disease, so more than likely it contracted it. In Montana before it came down and there was no more spread. Fast forward to 2019, c w [00:10:00] D was found in another elk herd in Lincoln County, Oklahoma. And again, the Department of Wildlife announced they was set up a surveillance area adjacent to the breeding facility.

And nothing else came from that. And then last year, 2022, this was something that I actually had mistaken. I actually thought that the deer was found in Oklahoma last year, but it was not. It was found 2.5 miles across the border into Texas. And so technically, yes, Oklahoma still did not have a confirmed case because it was in Texas.

But if you know anything about Whitetailed deer you know that 2.5 miles does not mean that much to a wild animal, especially further west where it's drier. Animals tend to move around a whole lot more. And so again, they could not confirm that Oklahoma had c w d cuz it wasn't found there, but it was found extremely close.

So once that tested, once they found that deer, or informed that that deer was found, it was [00:11:00] a roadkill deer. Two and a half miles from the border, Oklahoma went ahead and put together a selective surveillance area, s sa or ssa. And again, even though it wasn't found in Oklahoma, they decided that it was found close enough that they needed to start taking some action.

And it has here the borders of the area. Basically it went all the way to the New Mexico border, stretched across a lot of the panhandle. Went further north into, looks like Cimarron. And and so if you killed a deer or an elk in that area, you fell under the SSA regulations, and I'm gonna read those for you.

The S A now has additional regulations regarding any deer and elk carcass transported out of the s A area Hunters who harvest deer and elk within the boundaries of the s A must process those annals before leaving the s A. The following items are the only exceptions. Antlers detached from the skull plate and [00:12:00] antlers attached to a clean skull plate or clean skulls all tissue removed, animal quarters containing no spinal material or meat with all spinal material.

Spinal parts and spinal column removed. C clean teeth, D furnished taxidermy, finished taxidermy products, my bad e hides and tan products. So basically it had to be a completely clean skull plate, no brain tissue because again, it's a neurological disease and no spinal column because it travels through the spine.

So that was the ssa. Now I assume, because again, this is all fairly new. I assume that SSA is gonna be expanded because of this new deer that was found yesterday. But obviously it's all happened very quick. So that stuff hasn't been able to come out yet. That's why, again, I'm having this conversation, but I don't wanna release too many facts because I think a lot of this is going to change over the next couple days and honestly, probably a couple weeks.

So that [00:13:00] is again, why we're here. So CW, D C W D now officially is in Oklahoma, what does that mean? Right off the bat, I wanna make this very clear. I do not think it is time to panic. I'm not panicking. You shouldn't panic. States have been dealing with this disease for a while now. We are learning more about it.

We do not know everything about it. Obviously, as far as right now, there is still no cure. And the other thing with that is, let's say a researcher came up with a vaccine tomorrow, and all of a sudden you give the deer this vaccine and CWD is cured and that deer is good, the rest of its life. The other problem with that is how do you distribute that vaccine to every single deer in America or the world it's just not very, Just not probably gonna happen.

Think of how hard it is to kill a deer. Even using a rifle, you gotta be within a certain distance. The condition's gotta be right.[00:14:00] And so doing a mass vaccination of wild deer herd is. Probably very unlikely. Look how I've turned out with humans. And humans are a lot easier to deal with and reason with than Deere are, I don't know, maybe not some humans.

But so yeah. So that's where we're at right now. A few just kind of factors things I wanna say about C W D. Again, I mentioned it's not time to panic, but I think we do have to admit. Two things. One, we have to admit that C W D does exist. I know there's still people out there who beg to differ and don't wanna believe that, but I think we do have to agree that C W D does exist.

And the second thing we have to Come to terms with is that it is some con some what's the word I'm looking for? Some cause for concern. Now, the varying degrees of that concern that is up for debate. Again, I mentioned, I know there are people who. Maybe it admit it exists, [00:15:00] but they take the whole adage of, oh, it's been around for years and years, everything's still fine.

And then there's also the other side where people are talking about how it's the end of Whitetails as we know 'em, and more than likely we're gonna end up somewhere in the middle of that. Again, I think we do have to admit that it is a problem. Again, 100% fatal is it's hard to argue with that.

The degree of the, spread and solutions. That's where I feel like there is still some debate. They know it spreads fast. One. One argument that I, or one solution that has been proposed that I don't necessarily agree with is when they go out and they just eliminate entire deer herds. I know they have proven that can slow the disease, but that is not going to cure the disease.

And one quick thing I want to interject here before I go on is we haven't talked about how. C W D spreads yet, and so I wanna make sure we're clear on that. [00:16:00] So this is coming from the Mississippi State Deer Lab. C W D is thought to spread from animal to animal through contact with contaminated body fluids and tissue, or indirectly through exposure to C W D in the environment.

Such as from water or food. And so that's why in these, heavily c w D contaminated states, you're seeing things like baiting going away because they're trying to uncrate deer, they're trying to spread them out, not bring them into close quarters. They're also trying to not focus them in one particular area.

So if there's a bunch of deer out there feeding in a food plot, the thought is that they're at least, spread out eating on different plants and things like that. There's not as big of a chance of them, like on a bait station where they're all putting their noses in the exact same spot with tons of different deer over and over again.

So that's the thinking behind, cutting out the baiting. But back to the back to [00:17:00] the, killing off entire deer herds. I heard a really good spirited debate. A while back between Dr. Bronson Strickland and a guy who I really respect. I've mentioned him several times, Don Higgins.

Don is a hardcore deer hunter. He had his own captive herd years ago. He has his own podcast, very informative podcast that I really enjoy. But anyway, so he had this talk with Dr. Strickland and they basically stood on the two polar opposites of the spectrum when it comes to C w D. Don is more on the, he always calls it a political disease over dramatized.

Bronson is, he's done a lot of research on it. He definitely agrees that it is a thing, it is something to worry about. And so it was a really good. Chat. But one thing that Don mentioned that I do have to agree with is, in these spots, like I believe Indiana has done this, where they've come in and basically just tried to level the entire deer herd, kill every animal within these certain [00:18:00] distances of positively infected deer.

But one thing that is not really accounted for in that is, The C W D bacteria or whatever that is in the environment, in soil plants, whatever it might be, because that stuff does not just go away overnight. That stuff is there for years and years, and so as the deer moved back in or repopulate, however the deer come back into that area, there's a very good chance that bacteria is still going to be there.

One thing Bronson mentioned was that you're still spreading, or I'm sorry, you're still slowing the spread because you're taking out a bunch of infected deer, so they're not going to get it from each other as much. But back to my point, you're not going to cure this disease by doing that because it's just here.

And unfortunately, it does not look like it's going away anytime soon. So yeah that's where we're at right now. [00:19:00] Okay. So we've covered the history of C W D pretty well. We've covered some of the factors around it. We might get into that a little bit more, I'm not sure, but I wanna talk about this case, the case that I keep referring to.

So this is from Channel eight News out of Tulsa. And it says, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation announced on June 6th that a whitetail deer in the Oklahoma panhandle tested positive for chronic wasting disease. A K A C W D A Texas County landowner reported the deer to O D W C after seeing it behave strangely.

This is the first case of C W D in a wild deer in Oklahoma. O d WC has activated the next stage of the C W D response strategy with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, food and Forestry. We'll get into that more in just a second. While this is unfortunate news, it is not unexpected since c w D has already been detected in every state that borders Oklahoma.

We'll be working through our [00:20:00] response plan to ensure we can monitor potential spread and keep our state's deer herd healthy. Said Jerry Shaw Wildlife Program supervisor of with o d wc, and then it goes into what the disease is, kinda the stuff we've covered already. It talks about how they've. Taking tissue samples from more than 10,000 deer in elk in Oklahoma since 1999, and the Wildlife Department will continue to monitor this disease in Oklahoma and release any more necessary information should it arise.

So that's the article. That's what's happening right now. I said we would talk about the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, food and Forestry. So the first time I read this I don't know why, that just struck me as a little odd as why this concerns them. I know there was recent, recently some some legislation coming through about handing CWD stuff over to them, and I was always a little confused about that and why, and from the research I've done it makes a little bit [00:21:00] more sense than I originally thought.

That department deals a lot with captive deer herds, deer farms basically. And as many of you probably know, C W D and deer farms go hand in hand. And with my understanding is that's why they are being brought in. That's also why there has been talk about. Handing basically the c w D type stuff over to that department, which again, makes a lot more sense than I originally thought.

Gosh, there's so many different ways you could go at this. Yeah. I do believe that the captive deer industry has had a lot to do with the spread of C W D. I don't think they're the only ones at fault. There was a map put out by the National Deer Association, I wanna say two years ago.

And it was when C W D was, really getting hot and heavy and people were getting concerned about it. And it was a map that had like little red dots, like all over the United States. And, but there was a big concentration of red [00:22:00] dots in Indiana and it was kinda like, look at the map, study it and everything.

And what the map was every license holder who had hunted deer in Indiana that year. And so obviously there was huge camp concentration in Indiana cuz of all the residents. But what was amazing was all the non-residents. And basically the point of the article was, look at all these people who came into this super concentrated.

C w d positive area potentially killed deer and then took them home. And at this spot, I'm not sure if they had made the rules of the skull plates and the spinal tissue and all that stuff yet. But if they hadn't, that's obviously a huge deal. Even if they had, I'm sure there's a lot of people who either didn't know about it, didn't care about it.

And so I think we as hunters do need to take some responsibility that we probably had a big hand in the spread of this disease. [00:23:00] Again, I do think, the captive deer herd buying and selling deer all over the country, yes, that's very easy to spread it that way, but I don't think hunters are completely off the hook.

And that's something I had to do some research on for the first time last year because when I went to Nebraska, and nowadays it's. Pretty much everywhere. Just about every state has some kind of c w D law about taking, tissue, brain tissue and spinal columns, spinal material across state lines.

And When I went to hunt Nebraska last year, I had to read up on it, and I had to come up with a plan of what I was going to do if I killed a deer there. The meat is really not that big of an issue because basically as long as you quarter the deer, take the meat off of the backbone, cut off your your backstraps and everything like that, you're pretty much good there.

Just leave all the bones, where you're hunting at. That's the big part. The hard part is if you shoot a buck and you wanna take those antlers [00:24:00] home, and especially for me, because I was there for velvet season and so I had to take a lot more care of the head. It, I didn't get one, but if I did get one and man the best thing you could do there, and this really stinks, is honestly saw the horns off, old school style. If you're really into, getting it mounted or getting most tax numbers are gonna do that anyway. If you're getting it Euro mounted, which a lot of people do. You essentially either have to, completely strip that head down completely clean it, power wash it type thing or you're just gonna have to find a local person, taxidermic, whatever, to do the euro amount for you.

And obviously if you're traveling, if you're going outta state for three, four days, that could be an issue because then you're either gonna have to drive back there to pick it up, have it shipped there's just a lot more expense to it, especially if you're used to doing that type of stuff yourself.

So it is an issue. It is a big deal. Again, I think pretty much every state I know Texas and [00:25:00] Oklahoma, you're not supposed to cross state lines. That's something I deal with hunting out west. And so I've basically had to find two separate. Processors, taxidermic, all that stuff.

Luckily, I don't hunt too far away, so it's not a big a deal. Not as big a deal for me to drive, back and forth. But that's what I have started having to do. Just hunting Texas and Oklahoma like I've been doing the last several years. Again, this year I've talked about it like I'm definitely going to Nebraska.

I should find out any day now if I draw Iowa. And it's just something that you're gonna have to start putting in your mind in, in your plan if you're gonna be doing these out-of-state hunts. And again, the same goes with elk. If you're going out west to hunt elk or mule deer, same type of thing, you're either gonna have to find somebody local or add an extra day under your trip or something to account for having to clean that stuff off.

With a elk, it's, probably not quite as big a deal with the meat because most of the time you're having to pack it out anyway. Basically what I'm trying to say is the days of throwing a buck in the back of your truck and [00:26:00] driving home are pretty much over. I, maybe not over forever.

I don't wanna say that, I said I wasn't gonna speak in Es, but for the time being, the days of throwing the buck in the back of your truck and driving home it's just not a thing right now. And even, hopefully you're a law abiding citizen, but think about it. You can think about it in a selfish way if you want to.

Do, you really wanna take the chance of potentially harvesting a cwd, positive deer, bringing it to your house where you either live, maybe even hunt or if you're gonna process it, maybe you run out to your lease or your farm or whatever to process it out there. You're potentially then dropping c w D positive materials on the spot where you hunt or live, recreate, whatever.

And so again, if you're a selfish person like I could be, sometimes you have to think about it from that angle also. And so it's just honestly not a very fun topic. I'm trying to think if I forgot anything. We talked about the history. We talked about the two varying sides. We [00:27:00] talked about this current case.

We talked about how it's changing hunting a little bit. I, again, I just wanna say it's, I think it's here to stay for a while. I do want to make sure and get somebody on who knows way more about this than I do. I'd love to have somebody on, I have a few leads. Again, I just didn't quite have time and I really wanted to get something out there on this.

We'll let people know that it was happening. To be honest, I haven't seen that much activity on social media and stuff going on around it. I think I've had two people send me the article. I haven't found a whole lot on like the actual Oklahoma departments stuff. A lot of this is coming from, like I said, channel eight news and outlets like that.

And so I'm very curious to see one thing that I saw as a common thread was they're getting ready to take the next step. And I haven't seen much of what that next step actually is. And I tried to do some Googling before I started recording and honestly didn't get a very good answer.

Pretty much all I found [00:28:00] was the SSA areas where, you're not allowed to take deer out of that area. And not sure if that's the whole next step or if that's just the step for now. But as the stuff develops, I will be sure to inform you guys, and again, I'm trying to get somebody lined up to come on and.

Excuse me and speak more about this. I already have a couple interviews lined up for the next week or two, and so it might not be in the next two weeks or so, but hopefully after that I can get somebody lined up and get somebody on here who is way more knowledgeable than me. So that's pretty much going to do it for this week.

I know this was a shorter episode. Again I, it was a very research heavy episode and so I had to put a lot of time into this before I started recording, so I'm running outta time. But yeah, it's a serious deal. Do some research yourself, and I'm gonna get somebody on here who can really educate us on this.

So I think that's gonna do it. Guys. We're just a little bit over a half hour here, so again, nice and sweet. Thank you guys for [00:29:00] listening to this episode. Please share it. Send it to your buddies. Get the word out there and just letting people know that this is something that we're about to have to start dealing with.

So that's all I got. Thank you guys for listening. I hope you have a fantastic day, and I will see you guys right back here on the Oklahoma Outdoors Podcast. Next. Week.

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