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AGFC says human, animal diseases not linked

by Bryan Hendricks | March 18, 2016 at 5:45 a.m.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission at its monthly meeting Thursfay in Little Rock said there is no link between a case of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease reported Wednesday in Fayetteville and chronic wasting disease in Newton County.

Both diseases are forms of spongieform encephalathy that destroy a victim's central nervous system. Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease affects humans, and chronic wasting disease affects cervids such as whitetailed deer, elk and mule deer. An elk killed in October near Jasper was confirmed to have chronic wasting disease in February, and a whitetailed deer found dead in February near Ponca was confirmed to have CWD earlier this month.

Mike Knoedl, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's director, said the human and cervid cases are not connected.

"The incubation period of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease has no correlation with the elk," Knoedl said. "I want to make that clear so there is no panic."

Steven Beaupre, chair of biological sciences at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, is a non-voting member of the commission. He said Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease is often linked to the consumption of beef infected with mad cow disease, the bovine form of spongieform encephalthy.

"The timing couldn't be worse but the chances that this has anything do with discovery of chronic wasting disease in our state are astronomically small," Beaupre said. "The Centers for Disease Control says there is currently no evidence of transmission of chronic disease prions into humans.

"At the same time, they say why take a chance? They say to refrain from eating any parts of any animal known be infected with chronic wasting disease."

In other states where CWD exists, people continue to eat deer that are known to be infected with chronic wasting disease, and there has been no change in the rates of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease infection, Beaupre said.

The Game and Fish Commission is attempting to kill 300 deer in Newton County to test for the prevalence of chronic wasting disease. Knoedl said agency staff had killed 101 deer and nine elk as of 6 a.m. Wednesday.

In wildlife management business, Steven Fowler, assistant chief of the commission's wildlife management division, presented a suite of proposed hunting regulations for the 2016-17 hunting seasons.

Two regulations are intended to discourage the spread of chronic wasting disease. One would ban the use or possession of all deer scents and lures that contain deer urine or other body fluids from deer while hunting or scouting.

Another would require a non-commercial whitetailed deer hunting permit within high-fence facilities that are currently unpermitted. High-fence hunting areas usually contain whitetailed deer imported from other states that have chronic wasting disease.

Other proposals include:

• Prohibiting the use of air-powered archery equipment for hunting all wildlife.

• Allowing the use of an unleashed dog to recover wounded deer.

• Extend spring turkey season to 21 days, opening on the third Saturday of April.

• Restrict the taking of feral hogs on wildlife management areas owned by the Army Corps of Engineers during modern gun and muzzleloader big game seasons.

• Adding 20 days to dove season.

• Expanding early Canada goose season to include the entire month of September.

• Remove the requirement to film or record hunts on WMAs.

• Make a resident sportsman's hunting and fishing combination license available in March 2017. The cost will be $35.50.

• Open hunting on Maumelle River WMA for squirrel, dove, furbearer, quail, rabbit with shotguns using non-toxic shot only.

Sports on 03/18/2016

Print Headline: AGFC says human, animal diseases not linked


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