The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) will receive $207,541 for chronic wasting disease surveillance.
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that the funding is made available through the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
The APHIS grant is part of a national effort to further develop and implement CWD management and response activities in deer, elk, and other wild animals at risk of catching the contagious and fatal neurological disease.
“The continued spread of CWD in Mississippi represents a threat to the deer population, and, ultimately, the recreational hunting and outdoor tourism that we rely on in our state,” Hyde-Smith said. “The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks will use these USDA dollars on an innovative testing regime that could make it easier for hunters to participate in monitoring CWD.”
A project titled “Environmental Surveillance for CWD: Improving Understanding of Natural Risk and Refining RT-QuIC Protocols” will be supported by the grant. RT-QuIC is a test that screens for CWD in both live and dead animals.
These tests could allow wildlife management professionals to detect CWD in deer populations months or years earlier than they can with existing post-mortem tests, which rely on hunters sending tissue samples to the agency.
MDWFP’s CWD program is focused on increasing hunter participation in protecting the health of the state’s substantial whitetail deer population. Deer hunting represents the largest segment of the outdoor/hunting industry in Mississippi.