Following Ohio and Missouri, Texas is the latest state to implement additional restrictions to help prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) across the state’s whitetail and mule deer herds.
Earlier this summer, two mule deer tested positive for CWD in the desert bordering New Mexico. In response, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) staff proposed new rules affecting both hunters and landowners in the Trans-Pecos and Panhandle region.
The rules are specific down to the counties, and will be most strict in Hudspeth and Culberson counties — now part of the newly established Containment Zone, where deer testing positive for CWD have previously been found.
Hunters in the Containment Zone will have mandatory check stations where TPWD will collect brain tissue to test for CWD. Surrounding the Containment Zone, a High Risk Zone has been created, as well as a third buffer zone that extends to the western side of the Panhandle.
Check stations are voluntary in the High Risk Zone, but the rules regarding deer movement would be similar to the Containment Zone.
Landowners and game managers will also face stricter rules for moving and breeding deer. No permits for deer movement and no new deer breeder facilities will be issued by the TPWD within the Containment Zone.
Current DMP permits allow landowners to capture whitetail bucks on their property and put them in pens with does for breeding. All of the deer are then released back onto the permit holder’s property.
The TPWD is taking a zero tolerance approach on this and no animals will be allowed to move off the ranches where they were originally captured. It’s a necessary measure to prevent deer from moving long distances and spreading the disease (deer cannot be tested for CWD while they’re alive because brain samples are needed for testing).
The TPWD’s current goal is containment. With other more drastic measures including killing off deer in contained areas, it’s the best approach the TPWD can take at this point.