The long-awaited season of deer hunting is nearly upon us. For us as residents of the southeastern corner of North Dakota, worry about CWD is low compared to other areas of the state.
CWD stands for ‘Chronic Wasting Disease,’ about which little is known. While that is changing daily as science concentrates its collective lenses on the subject, our knowledge of CWD remains basic. Discovered circa 1967 in captive Colorado research animals, the disease spread outward from there, first to wild herds, then to other states. In the early 2010s, it reached North Dakota’s wild deer herds. Currently, 24 states and two provinces have CWD in either wild or captive populations.
Like BSE and scrapie, for those livestock folks out there, CWD is similar in that it is a prion disease.
‘Prion’ is a shortened name for ‘Protinaceous Infectious Particle,’ which was coined when researcher S. B. Pruisner was researching scrapie in sheep. Prions are not cells, do not have nucleic acids (DNA or RNA), and are resistant to many of the control strategies that we can employ against bacteria and their tougher cousins, viruses; including heat, disinfectants, and simply time.
Control methods-wise, CWD is dissimilar to BSE: BSE cannot be spread through the soil and is relatively short-lived, whereas both scrapie and CWD are long-lived and can exist in soils. CWD is much more similar to scrapie than BSE. BSE does not exist in the United States’ food chain unless beef from a country that sells contaminated beef is brought in, which the CDC heavily prevents. Eating safe beef is as simple as choosing US-raised, US-packaged beef.
The collection site in Valley City is set up behind Valley Meat Supply. Let’s give the NDGF a robust number of samples to make sure CWD is not here. It takes more than one, more than ten, even more than fifty to get on solid footing in an experiment like this one. If every hunter donates their deer head, the NDGF will reach their goal. Also, the wildlife club at the college is competing with other area colleges to collect the most heads for the NDGF, and we couldn’t let VCSU be beaten, could we? Let’s show ‘em what Valley City can do!
Look for the full story in your Thursday, November 7th Times-Record.