Officials Working To Keep Deer Disease Out Of Oklahoma

Friday, February 22nd 2019, 5:10 pm
By: Caleigh Bourgeois

Oklahoma officials are working to keep a disease affecting deer out of Oklahoma.  

Nicknamed, “zombie deer disease,” Chronic Wasting Disease has showed up in deer and elk in every state bordering Oklahoma.

“We hope that it never gets here, but we realize that may be a little bit of wishful thinking. So, we're doing everything we can do to get ready in case that day eventually ever comes,” Micah Holmes, with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said.

CWD has not affected any humans so far, according to Holmes, but the disease is known to make deer or elk act strangely.

“It's a neurological disease so it affects their brain and eventually it causes them to stop eating,” Holmes said.

To keep the disease from spreading to Oklahoma, Wildlife Conservation is proposing a rule for next hunting season.

“It would prohibit hunters from another state bringing in a whole carcass back into Oklahoma,” Holmes said.

A public hearing regarding the proposed rule will be held with the department on March 7.

Meanwhile, Holmes is reminding hunters not to panic, and to call the department if they see something strange in the wilderness.

Mark Scarberry, with Roger’s Meat Market in Oklahoma City, says he takes extra steps to prevent any disease spreading from deer carcasses that come into his plant.

Scarberry says he processes every deer separately.

“At the end of the day, we tear the plant down and clean it, then everything is sterilized and bleached real good,” Scarberry said.

CWD can’t be detected by a meat processor, but hunters can sometimes notice signs from a live deer.

“Maybe the deer is not acting right, his weight, bones are sticking out,” Scarberry said.