Oklahoma Watches and Warnings

Hunters on the lookout for zombie deer

OKLAHOMA CITY -  With deer-gun season fast approaching, does the thought of a zombie deer scare you a little bit?  "It does and that’s one of the symptoms too, the way they act," said Altus hunter, Mike Howeth.

OK, we are not talking about deer turning into mindless monsters that will eat your brains, we are talk about chronic wasting disease or CWD.

"Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disease that effects deer, elk, and moose. It is always a fatal disease that effects the brain," said Micah Holmes of the OK Dept. of Wildlife Conservation.

CWD creates small holes in brain tissue. It causes the infected animal to act erratically; think mad cow disease for deer.

"If someone sees a deer that is acting abnormally, turning around in circles, that is slobbering, that just looks out of the ordinary," said Holmes.

So far the Department of Wildlife has tested over 10,000 deer since 1999 for CWD.

The disease has yet to be detected in Oklahoma but positive tests have come back from every adjacent state: Texas, Colorado, Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri.

Just because the Wildlife Department hasn't confirmed cases here in Oklahoma, it doesn’t mean they aren't prepared.

"We are actively looking for it, actively monitoring it, and we have a CWD response plan that we are updating right now," said Holmes.

Now there is some confusion about eating a deer that could be CWD positive.

"CWD transmission has not been documented in humans or livestock," said Holmes.

But the Wildlife Department is still warning hunters to be careful with carcasses. Hunters should be on the lookout for odd behavior.

"Hunters/anglers are our eyes and ears out there so we encourage people to call us if they see something out of the ordinary," said Holmes.

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