In 2013, a non-permitted high-fenced enclosure was discovered by Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks law enforcement just southwest of Hattiesburg in Lamar County. An extensive investigation by MDWFP and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revealed that animals within the enclosure had been transported from Texas facilities that were linked to CWD-positive animals. In January 2017, a tornado struck the Hattiesburg area and damaged approximately 6,845 feet of the enclosure fence, releasing the animals into the surrounding area.
MDWFP established a 5-mile radius surveillance zone around the enclosure in an effort to detect any CWD-positive animals and hunters that harvested a deer within this zone were asked to voluntarily submit deer heads at local fire stations around the area.
During the 2017/2018 deer season, a total of 70 samples were submitted for testing and all were returned “not detected for CWD”. Sample results are posted by tag receipt number on www.mdwfp.com/deer. MDWFP said they plan to continue this sampling method for two additional years.
“We’re asking hunters to be vigilant and help us in collecting these samples and reporting diseased deer to us,” said Russ Walsh, executive wildlife director with the MDWFP. “If hunters see deer that appear to be sick or diseased, they can report that online at our website, so hunters, please let us know.”
Walsh added that they will continue to collect road kill samples for the next year and MDWFP is now asking that anyone who observes a deer with ear tags in the area immediately call 1-800-BESMART. In addition, deer exhibiting signs of infection such as drooping head, excessive drooling, uncoordinated walking, or excessive weight loss should be immediately reported to MDWFP.