Hunting News

Commission approves updated CWD management plan

Commission approves updated CWD management plan

By Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

The Game and Fish Commission has unanimously approved an update to the agency’s official Chronic Wasting Disease Management and Response Plan.

During the Commission’s January meeting, State Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Jenn Ballard explained the need for an updated plan.

The agency’s first CWD plan, finalized in 2006, solely focused on response actions should CWD be discovered in the state. When CWD was detected in 2016, the Deer Team plan revision focused on future management and surveillance.

“Since that time, we have learned so much more about this disease and its reach in Arkansas, so it was definitely time to develop a new plan to carry us into the future,” Ballard said.

In April 2020 the Research Division and Wildlife Management Division reviewed feedback from public meetings and surveys and reviewed the plans of other states as well as best management practices from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. In June, the agency then hosted a CWD roundtable event with professionals in the wildlife management and veterinary fields to discuss the management strategies and the most current science involving CWD.

In August, Ballard presented the first draft of the plan to the Commission and staff for internal review. An amended plan was circulated for external review in December.

“This review was focused on soliciting unbiased feedback from a variety of professionals and institutions in disease research as well as wildlife management,” Ballard said. “We received 19 responses to this review, with the majority being very favorable of the plan. Ways to improve surveillance, monitoring and human dimensions regarding the disease were received, as well as a comment on congregating wildlife.”

The final draft of the plan is available for review.

An executive summary for general audiences will be distributed in the next few weeks to introduce the plan to the public. While much of the plan touches on management and surveillance techniques currently being implemented by the AGFC, many refinements have been instituted as well as the need to conduct and review future CWD research and adjust the plan as needed. 

“We also hope to be one of many states participating in a project with Cornell University on surveillance optimization to learn how all states can become more efficient in their surveillance efforts,” Ballard said. “This plan will be evolving as the science does to ensure we stay on the forefront of research in wildlife disease here in Arkansas.”

Copyright 2021 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd