The disease may not make ‘zombie’ deer eat brains because it’s too busy eating theirs.
This isn’t our first time hearing about zombie deer and the potential threats they pose. But that doesn’t make chronic wasting disease (the cause of zombie-like deer) any easier to stomach.
The neurodegenerative disease may not cause the deer, moose, and elk suffering from it to actually eat other living creatures, but it’s not without its risks.
Chronic wasting disease actually eats holes inside the brain of the animal infected with it.
The zombie behavior they exhibit is due to the stumbling, drooling and weight loss from the brain damage. The disease is always fatal to infected animals.
Wildlife officials in Nevada are hoping to avoid those risks this hunting season and keep the infection out of their state.
Nevada may be avoiding the disease so far, but other states haven’t been so lucky.
The CDC reports that 227 counties in 24 states have had infected deer, moose, and elk. Most of the infections have been found in Wyoming, Colorado, and Kansas.
This disease isn’t a new problem
The Nevada Department of Wildlife advises any and all hunters to check animal carcasses at one of their mobile sampling stations.
Hunters can find these stations set up at truck stops near state lines in order to keep infection out. The testing takes about five minutes and doesn’t affect the meat or antlers of the deer, for anyone worried.
Cronic wasting disease has been a known issue for nearly 70 years now.
The only thing that’s new about it is that it’s being described as a zombie disease.
“CWD was first identified in captive deer in a Colorado research facility in the late 1960s, and in wild deer in 1981,” according to the CDC. “By the 1990s, it had been reported in surrounding areas in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. Since 2000, the area known to be affected by CWD in free-ranging animals has increased to at least 24 states, including states in the Midwest, Southwest, and limited areas on the East Coast.”