Prions can be detected in scrapes, hunters spend big in Texas, Pennsylvania doe harvest gets easier, and more deer hunting news
A quick jog around the deer hunting world for fresh news on hot-button topics. Image by Russell Graves
FRESH DIRT ON CWD
For the past 40 years, the only way to confirm chronic wasting disease was to test samples of brain tissue or lymph nodes from a dead deer. However, a groundbreaking new study indicates CWD prions can be detected in deer scrapes.
Researchers from the Mississippi State University Deer Lab sampled 99 scrapes at a CWD zone in southwestern Tennessee, and 54 of them (55%) tested positive for CWD prions. Of the 99 scrapes tested, 35% contained CWD prions from saliva on a licking branch only. About 14% had prions from urine in the soil of a scrape only, and 6% had prions in the soil and on a licking branch. Biologists can now use scrapes as a CWD monitoring tool without having to test tissue from a dead doe or buck.
In other not-so-positive CWD news, a white-tailed deer in the Oklahoma Panhandle has tested positive for the always-fatal disease. A Texas County landowner reported the deer to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation after witnessing it behaving abnormally. This marks the first case of CWD in a wild deer in Oklahoma.
HUNTING IS BIGGER IN TEXAS
A report by Texas A&M’s Natural Resources Institute estimated that about 555,000 hunters spend almost $2 billion each year on whitetail hunting in Texas. The Houston Chronicle reported that another 200,000 landowners shell out $2.5 billion on whitetail-related activities. That’s by far the most money spent by any state on deer hunting.
KANSAS SHED HUNTER FINDS HUMAN REMAINS
According to Fox News, a man shed hunting a few months ago near Humboldt, Kansas, found more than he bargained for — a human skeleton. Law-enforcement authorities responded and said the remains were so badly decomposed that the age and gender of the person were not immediately apparent. An autopsy has been scheduled.
PA’S NEW DOE TAG SYSTEM
For decades, Pennsylvania hunters had to mail pre-stamped pink envelopes to county treasurers to apply for antlerless deer licenses, but that arcane system is finally finished. Thanks to a 2023 law, hunters can now purchase doe tags from all locations that sell hunting licenses, as well as online. Antlerless licenses for the 2023-’24 season went on sale June 26, and hunters are encouraged to get theirs early.
DO DEER BRING WORMS?
A new study from the University of Minnesota unearthed a bizarre connection between white-tailed deer and worms. The research, published in the journal Ecology, shows that in northern forests, the presence of many deer substantially increases the number of invasive earthworms.
That’s an important connection, scientists say, because earthworms are invasive to Minnesota and can degrade the health of forests.
“Deer are peeing and pooping in the forest. And that fertilizes the soil and favors earthworms,” said one of the researchers.
No word yet on whether more deer tags will be issued in woods with huge worm populations.
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