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Kentucky officials work to monitor Chronic Wasting Disease in deer population

Stock photo of a white tail deer
Stock photo of a white tail deer

Deer and elk populations in Kentucky are facing a concerning threat to their health. In December, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife recorded the first case of Chronic Wasting Disease in western Kentucky. Chronic Wasting Disease is a neurological disease that eventual kills the animal infected with it. Gabe Jenkins is the Deputy Commissioner of Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.

He said officials and hunters are concerned about the disease. “The fear of eating a diseased animal. We've not seen it jump the species barrier, but still, if you harvest an animal and it has Chronic Wasting Disease, is that something you really want to eat and consume?”

He said they are being vigilant in monitoring the possible spread of the disease.

“A hunter sees a deer, or harvests a deer that doesn't act normal, looks sick, we can pull that sample. We also work with taxidermists and processors, go to those locations and interact with hunters and get samples from people who are bringing their clients to have taxidermy work done or meat processed, we also collect roadkill.”

Jenkins said chronic wasting disease has only recently been confirmed in Kentucky. He said officials worry that it can spread quickly. Roughly 130-to-150 thousand deer are harvest annually in Kentucky.

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Stan Ingold is WEKU's News Director. He has worked in public broadcasting for 18 years, starting at Morehead State Public Radio before spending the past 10 years at Alabama Public Radio. Stan has been honored with numerous journalism awards for his public radio reporting.
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