As we reported earlier this year, on January 7, 2022, the first-ever case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Alabama was confirmed in a deer shot in Lauderdale County in the far northwestern part of the state. Wildlife officials immediately designated all of Lauderdale and neighboring Colbert County as the state’s first CWD Management Zone (CMZ).
With only 30 days left in the 2021-22 hunting season, and with the need to acquire as many blood and tissue samples from deer as possible to determine the prevalence of the disease, officials removed all daily and seasonal bag limits in the CMZ.
Most hunters in the area were happy to follow the science and shoot some deer, but a vocal minority was outraged.
“We took quite a bit of criticism when we removed the season and daily bag limits,” said Chuck Sykes, Alabama’s Director of Wildlife. “We were going to ‘kill them all’…‘destroy deer hunting’… ‘starve people in the future because we were going to kill all the deer.’”
Turns out, Alabama’s post-season harvest data revealed that hunters killed 1,707 deer in the CMZ from January 7 through February 10, 2022, a moderate increase of 226 animals as compared to the same area during the same time the previous season.
“We did not destroy the deer herd,” Sykes said. “We did not kill them all. There will be plenty (of deer) next year. If you look at the totals, for the entire season, the harvest in the CMZ is down. So, everything is still fine.”
A total of 966 CWD samples were tested from the deer harvested within the CMZ. A lab confirmed only one more positive case of CWD from a deer killed in west-central Lauderdale County.