The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has finalized details for three additional public forums about an increasingly widespread and fatal brain disease that infects members of the deer family.
"Chronic wasting disease has not been detected in Kentucky but it's on our doorstep," said Chris Garland, acting Wildlife Division director for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife. "We're hosting these public forums to raise awareness about the disease and ongoing efforts to monitor and protect Kentucky's deer and elk herds."
The department held its first chronic wasting disease forum earlier this month in Marshall County. The remaining forums are scheduled from 6-8 p.m. (Eastern) on:
• Thursday, May 23 at the Perry County Public Library at 289 Black Gold Boulevard in Hazard.
• Tuesday, June 18 at Curtis Gates Lloyd Wildlife Management Area at 620 Gardnersville Road in Crittenden.
• Thursday, July 18 at the Salato Wildlife Education Center on Kentucky Fish and Wildlife's campus at 1 Sportsman's Lane in Frankfort.
Chronic wasting disease is caused by abnormal proteins called prions and affects white-tailed deer, elk, moose, mule deer and caribou (cervids). There is no known cure or vaccine, and the disease is always fatal in infected cervids.
Since its discovery in Colorado in the 1960s, chronic wasting disease has spread to more than half the states in the country, including six of the seven that border Kentucky.
The latest testing of Kentucky deer and elk returned no positive results. Since 2002, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife has tested nearly 30,000 deer and elk. Most of those animals were harvested by hunters. Every county has had multiple deer tested over time.
Department personnel will be on hand at the community forums to discuss chronic wasting disease and the department's readiness should it be detected in Kentucky, answer questions and gather public input about chronic wasting disease preparedness.
The forums are part of a broad outreach effort by Kentucky Fish and Wildlife to provide the public with the latest information about the disease. This effort includes new printed materials, videos, presentations and more.
Meanwhile, members of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Commission, department leadership and Wildlife Division staff remain vigilant in their efforts to keep chronic wasting disease out of the state.
Some recent developments related to chronic wasting disease include:
1. Implementation of a complete carcass importation ban from any state or country 301 KAR 2:095
2. Legislation requiring processors to dispose of carcasses in ways to reduce the chances of spreading chronic wasting disease, including burying wastes or disposing of wastes in a lined landfill
3. A requirement for taxidermists to bury carcass waste or dispose of wastes in a lined landfill
4. The commission's adoption of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) report on best management practices for prevention, surveillance and management of chronic wasting disease.
To learn more about this issue, visit the department's chronic wasting disease webpage at fw.ky.gov/cwd. The page also provides a link to the department's Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan.