LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists plan to deliver information about chronic wasting disease and proposed regulations changes to combat its spread at meetings throughout the state, beginning Thursday. All regulations proposals will be voted on in June.
In addition to 11 public meetings scheduled throughout the state on May 24 and 26, a special public meeting will be held Thursday, May 19, in Jasper to discuss the proposed regulations.
The AGFC also will host a special show on the Arkansas Education Television Network at 8 p.m., Monday, May 23. The show will include a panel of experts from the AGFC, Arkansas Department of Health and the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Viewers may submit comments and questions via phone at 800-662-2386, email at email@example.com or on Twitter with #ARAsk.
The discovery of chronic wasting disease has been the hot topic in the Arkansas deer-hunting community since it was first found in the northwest portion of the state. Many questions about how deer and elk hunting in Arkansas will be affected have been asked, and many answers are left to be determined.
"The first step in our response was to gauge how prevalent the disease was in Arkansas," said Cory Gray, deer program coordinator for the AGFC. "Then we took on statewide sampling to find out how far the disease has spread. Now we're ready to begin taking measures to combat the spread of the disease."
Gray and the rest of the AGFC's deer team have worked tirelessly since CWD was first reported in the state to gather as much information as possible from other states who have dealt with the disease.
"This doesn't mean the end of deer hunting in Arkansas, and it's not a panic-button situation, but it is serious and will change how we can manage our deer herd," Gray said. "This isn't something that can be fixed overnight, it's a long-term process that should be looked at in decades rather than from one hunting season to the next. Managing for diseases in wildlife is a marathon, not a sprint."
According to Gray, the ongoing statewide roadkill survey has identified CWD-positive deer in five counties: Newton, Boone, Madison, Pope and Carroll.
"The most recent addition was a deer found dead just over the border in Carroll County," Gray said.
Through all phases of testing, 89 total animals have been found with CWD in Arkansas, 85 deer and four elk.
May 24, 6-8 p.m.
Nettleton Public School
Nettleton Performing Arts Center
4201 Chieftan Lane
University of Arkansas at Monticello
Fine Arts Center
National Park College
Fredrick Dierks Center for Nursing and Health Sciences
101 College Drive
Arkansas Tech University
Doc Bryan Student Services Center
1605 Coliseum Drive
University of Arkansas
Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Center
1335 West Knapp
2 Natural Resources Drive
May 26, 6-8 p.m.
Camden Fairview High School
Little Theater Auditorium
1750 Cash Road
Brinkley Convention Center
1501 Weatherby Drive
Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center
8300 Wells Lake Road
Hope Fair Park Community Center
800 South Mockingird Lane
Mountain Home High School
500 Bomber Boulevard