Arkansas GFC hosting public meetings to discuss chronic wasting disease

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will host special public meetings concerning chronic wasting disease in Fort Smith and Springdale.
Arkansas GFC hosting public meetings to discuss chronic wasting disease

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will host special public meetings concerning chronic wasting disease in Fort Smith and Springdale.

The Fort Smith meeting will be held at the Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center beginning at 6 p.m., April 3. The Springdale meeting will be held at Cross Church, 1709 Johnson Road, beginning at 6 p.m., April 5.

Since the beginning of the 2017-18 deer hunting season, positive cases of CWD have been found in three new Arkansas counties – Benton, Sebastian and Washington. Many more positive cases of CWD were found within the previously established CWD Management Zone as well. Biologists have located 357 positive cases of CWD since it was first detected in Arkansas in February 2016.

“People who hunt in areas near these new cases may have questions about details of the disease or what these findings mean to them,” said Jenn Ballard, the AGFC’s state wildlife veterinarian. “We want to continue being as transparent as possible about what CWD is and what we can do about it by keeping the public informed every step of the way.”

The public meeting will give a brief introduction to the disease, the latest science and current information on the disease’s range in Arkansas. Biologists also will explain newly proposed regulations to slow its spread. Ballard hopes to give more detail about the research behind these regulations and how they can benefit hunters and biologists in the fight against CWD.

“Some methods we propose to combat disease are different from what people are used to and they may seem a little counter-intuitive if you don’t know the reasoning behind them,” Ballard said. “We really hope to help explain this information at the meetings and to give hunters an opportunity to provide comments about them. Hunters are our partners in this fight and we want them to understand why changes are necessary.”

There is no known cure for CWD and the only methods to combat it are to slow its spread through natural means, such as deer movement, and eliminate the unnatural movement of potentially infected animals or their carcasses to new areas.

Visit www.arkansascwd.com for more information about CWD in Arkansas.

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