AL hunters concerned about deer disease from MS

AL hunters concerned about deer disease from MS

MORGAN COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Deer hunters are all abuzz over the latest state where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been found. State fish and game authorities are cautioning deer processing plants not to accept deer from Mississippi and other states.

Lacon Deer Processors is where a lot of people bring their deer meat to be dressed and eaten. One of those hunters is Chance Higdon. He says he's hunted deer for 20 years.

"We hunt on the Mississippi line and this is the first that I've heard that they have it in Mississippi, so it is concerning," he said.

The first few scientific tests on CWD led researchers to believe that it's not directly transmissible to humans. But it is a "prion" just like mad cow disease. And there's a concern that prion could be passed to cattle and from cattle to humans. That's the basis for the ban. Several states have the ban.

"We are passionate about our deer hunting. I can't speak for all deer hunters, but we love the animals, we love the sport," Higdon said.

Higdon brings his kill to Lacon Deer Processor and owner, Jerry Smith, said he's had some visits from the state about the disease.

"They give us kind of, just like a cheat sheet here. And if any of the states that are highlighted here come in, we're actually suppose to turn them in, with bones. We can take the meat but no bones, no skull, no spinal fluid or brain or anything like that," said Smith.

And while he says it hasn't made a big dent in his business so far, he is worried about the future and whether or not this disease moves into Alabama.

"Chronic waste disease can eliminate whole herds of deer. And so we currently don't have that in Alabama and we don't want it. We're trying to preserve for future generations good hunting land," Smith said.

He said if it is brought into the state, you just can't get rid of it.

If you have questions about this ban you can call the Alabama Wildlife and Fisheries in Montgomery at Game Watch at 1-800-272-4263.

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