- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Chronic Wasting disease, an illness fatal to deer and elk species that has been found in some Midwestern and Western states, is not present in Maryland, says the state’s Department of Natural Resources. The disease attacks the brain and spinal cord of the animals and is believed to be caused by prions, which are modified proteins.

Once it takes hold, CWD is highly contagious. It is similar to Mad Cow disease that occasionally results in the destruction of entire herds of dairy or beef cattle. A similar disease, known as Scrapie, can threaten sheep.

In the case of CWD among deer, Northeastern and Southeastern states have CWD surveillance for two years, and no sign of the wasting disease was discovered in hunter-harvested deer.

“We remain committed to keeping a vigilant watch over detecting the presence of CWD in Maryland’s deer,” said Paul A. Peditto, director of the Wildlife & Heritage Service.

A total of 542 white-tailed deer were tested in the survey. Wildlife and Heritage Service biologists collected brain and lymph gland samples during Maryland’s 2003-04 muzzleloader and firearms hunting seasons from deer shot in Allegany, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Frederick, Garrett, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Washington counties.

The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study Laboratory at the University of Georgia conducted the testing of the brain and lymph gland samples. The lab is an internationally known wildlife disease research facility that processes samples for Maryland and most Southeastern states.

CWD has been confirmed in wild cervids in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Utah and Illinois. It also has been found in captive cervids in the Midwest and West.

Though no human has been infected by CWD, hunters, and others who handle deer and elk should remain cautious in their meat-handling techniques. The DNR recommends that you avoid shooting or handling a deer that appears to be sick.

Also:

• Wear latex or rubber gloves when field-dressing or butchering deer.

• Remove all internal organs.

• Debone all your venison.

• Do not use household utensils when butchering deer.

• Disinfect all cutting utensils when finished by boiling knives and tools or soaking in a 50/50 solution of bleach and water.

• Remove all fat, membranes and connective tissue from the meat. Note that normal field-dressing and trimming of fat from meat will remove the lymph nodes.

Additional information is available at www.cwd-info.org.

Menhaden workshop scheduled — Federal, state and academic fishery scientists will participate in an Atlantic States Fishery Management Commission workshop Oct. 12-14 to examine the ecological role of menhaden and explore the possibility of localized depletion in the Chesapeake Bay. The workshop will be held at Holiday Inn, 525 First St., Alexandria.

The workshop aims to improve scientific understanding of the menhaden’s ecological niche. Discussions and findings regarding this relatively small, oily baitfish’s role in the Chesapeake, the predator-prey interactions, localized depletion, and fisheries ecosystem plans will be addressed. Stakeholders, including commercial operators, will make presentations.

The workshop is designed to provide a forum for scientists to explore concerns raised by the public. While the public is encouraged to attend and observe the workshop, there will be limited time for public comment on the second day of the workshop. If the Management Board decides to take action based on the workshop recommendations, an open public comment process will be initiated.

For more information, contact Nancy Wallace, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 202/289-6400 or [email protected]

EVENTS

Trout Unlimited chapter meets — Today, 7:30p.m., at Schweinhaut Senior Center, Silver Spring. This meeting of the Potomac-Patuxent chapter of Trout Unlimited is open to the public. See an underwater video by Ozzie Ozefovich on what trout see, including movement and color above and below the water surface, how they see artificial flies, and how white shirts, watches and even bright rod finishes can spook trout. Information: pptu.org or 301/652-3848.

Save a Fish, Eat a Pig Barbecue — Sept.25, 5p.m., at Vienna Volunteer Fire Department. Held by the Northern Virginia Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association. Food, door prizes, flycasting clinic, auction items. Information: Rob Allen, 703/626-2668.

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column Sunday and Wednesday and his Fishing Report on Thursday, only in The Washington Times. E-mail: [email protected]

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