VDW veterinarian discusses Chronic Wasting Disease in Montgomery County

Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 5:51 PM EDT
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MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - A warning, some of these pictures in the video could be upsetting.

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources has confirmed Chronic Wasting Disease for the first time in Montgomery County. WDBJ7 checked in with the department to see what this means for hunters and other folks in the region.

The Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources found a 2-year-old male deer in Montgomery County infected with Chronic Wasting Disease.

A Wildlife Veterinarian with the department, Megan Kirchgessner, says this infectious disease is found in deer, elk and moose. It’s always fatal to an animal that contracts it, and the disease is caused by an infectious protein. The department has been conducting a state-wide surveillance effort of this disease since 2018.

“And we enlist the help of cooperating taxidermists. This past year they sampled over 2,600 deer for us from all of Virginia and the only positive detection for us out of that batch was here in Montgomery County,” Kirchgessner said.

So the department has created a disease management area made up of Pulaski, Floyd and Montgomery counties.

“And effective immediately, we have prohibited the rehabilitation of fawns in these three counties, and we’ve also prohibited the feeding of deer in any county that is in within 25 miles of this detection,” Kirchgessner said. She pointed out she hopes folks will not take home fawns they find in the woods, since often, these fawns are waiting for their mothers who leave them for hours at a time. She said especially now with the disease in the area, it is in the best interest of the fawns to leave them.

Wildlife resources is enforcing these new rules to prevent congregating deer, which can lead to spread of the disease.

“And looking forward to next season, we are going to be restricting the transportation of whole deer carcasses out of this disease area,” Kirchgessner said.

She said they are also proposing to the department board a few changes to the fall deer hunting season. These include: “An extension of the general fire-arm season in Pulaski and Montgomery Counties, excluding national forests, from two weeks to for weeks,” Kirchgessner said.

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