Wildlife officials are keeping a close eye on a potentially lethal threat to Vermont’s deer herd.
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter said officials in Quebec have confirmed the province’s first-ever case of chronic wasting disease.
CWD is a fatal condition that affects the brain and nervous system of deer and elk. In regions where the disease is endemic, Porter said it “can have a significant impact on the deer population and the health of the deer herd.”
“Obviously that’s not something we want here in Vermont,” Porter said this week.
Vermont has never had a confirmed case of CWD, according to Porter, who also said the state already has a number of safeguards in place to prevent the disease from spreading here.
Now that the disease has shown up less than 100 miles from the Vermont border, in a captive red deer herd in Quebec, Porter said wildlife officials plan to ramp up protections.
“We are now talking about how to step up our monitoring and outreach efforts, and we’ll work with the Agency of [Agriculture], which oversees and regulates captive cervids in Vermont as well,” Porter said.
CWD, which is found most often in captive deer herds, can live in the carcasses of deer long after the animals have died; Vermont has already prohibited the importation of deer and elk carcasses.
Vermont has also banned the use of deer urine lures, because CWD can be introduced to the environment through the bodily fluids of deer and elk, and remain in the ground for long periods of time, according to the Fish and Wildlife Department.
Disclosure: Vermont Fish and Wildlife is a VPR underwriter.