Digital Original: Oh Deer! Contaminated populations remind hunters to always inspect venison


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – With hunting season just around the corner, experts want to remind people to always check their meat – especially venison.

“One of the problems we have with chronic wasting disease is there so many unknowns,” says Dr. Becky McPeake, an extension wildlife specialist with the U of A Division of Agriculture.

Chronic Wasting Disease also referred to as “zombie deer disease,” has been found in many Northern parts of Arkansas since as far back as 2016.

The disease is a fatal illness affecting the brains of deer, moose and elk.

“The potential of chronic wasting disease is it could wipe out deer, it could wipe out a lot of deer,” says Dr. McPeake. “Potentially – who knows how many potential and that’s been a big concern.”

The Arkansas Game and Fish provides a map online of where the diseases has been found.

“Could potentially be a catastrophe for hunters, for people who enjoy the outdoors and of course for the deer themselves,” explains Dr. McPeake.

Dr. McPeake says because there are so many unanswered questions it is better to be proactive and safe. She says the disease still poses a risk to the deer population especially in large numbers which is why it’s important to stay informed.

“Because of that basically what we are doing now is education and awareness,” Dr. McPeake says.

Now members with the U of A Division of Agriculture are proactively trying to educate the public about preventative measures and how to potentially stop the spread of the disease.

Overall, infection rates in animals across Arkansas remain low.

However, the disease has prove to be very persistent in areas where it has established itself.

For information about the disease and best practices, click here.

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