KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking the public’s input as they work to create a plan to limit the spread of a deadly disease impacting deer.

Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal disease impacting the nervous system of cervids (members of the deer family). Animals impacted include white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose. TWRA’s goal is to keep CWD from spreading, keep the number of diseased deer to a minimum, and reduce disease rates. The TWRA created a strategic plan over 18 months for managing CWD over the next five years with help from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

A public comment period is open to allow people to comment on TWRA’s strategic plan. This plan will act as a guiding document for TWRA staff. It will also make sure the best science is used to create efforts to control the disease. Comments can be submitted by mail to: Wildlife Public Comments, TWRA, Wildlife Division, 5107 Edmondson Pike, Nashville, TN 37211 or emailed to Input will be accepted through Jan. 29, 2023.

The new plan includes five key goals:

  • Prevent the spread of CWD to new areas.
  • Surveillance and monitoring to improve early detection of the disease and better track the number and location of cases.
  • Activate management and responses to minimize the impacts of CWD where the disease has been detected and proactively respond to any new cases.
  • More research to optimize all of TWRA’s CWD programs.
  • Outreach and Communications to ensure the public and our hunters have the information they need about CWD.

In December 2018, a TWRA CWD diagnostic laboratory found that 10 hunter-harvested deer taken during the opening weekend of the gun season from Hardeman and Fayette Counties tested positive for CWD. So far, CWD has only been confirmed in West Tennessee. During the 2021-22 fiscal year, more than 16,000 deer were sampled, with 631 returning positive results according to the TWRA.

The programs used to manage CWD are constantly being updated through new research and changing conditions across the landscape. The new plan is one way the TWRA is looking to the future and trying to eliminate the disease.