TAHC accepting comments on CWD rule proposal

Source: Texas Animal Health Commission

The Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) is now accepting public comments on proposed rules to amend Chapter 40, which deals with chronic wasting disease (CWD). The rules will affect certain cervid (deer) species and delineates movement restriction zones and other necessary disease management practices related to the control of CWD in far west Texas.

CWD has been discovered in mule deer in the Hueco Mountains of southern New Mexico, very near the Texas state line. The potential risk of animals moving between Texas and New Mexico has raised significant concern among wildlife and animal health officials that CWD may exist in deer living in the Texas portion of Hueco Mountains. Currently, CWD is not known to exist anywhere in Texas, but has been found in free-ranging and/or captive cervid herds in 16 other states.

CWD is not known to affect people, but a number of deer species are susceptible, including mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, red deer, sika deer and moose. The most common signs of CWD are chronic weight loss and abnormal behavior, such as disorientation.

Prions are the infectious agent of CWD and can be found throughout the body of an infected animal. The prions are present in the body fluids of infected animals and can be shed onto the soil, where they may remain able to infect other susceptible animals for many years. For this reason, the rules proposed by TAHC apply to land – as well as animals – within the proposed zones.

The proposed rules are intended to define susceptible species; establish boundaries for a High Risk Zone (HRZ) and Containment Zone (CZ); restrict movement within the zones; establish surveillance systems within the zones; and also address requirements for a new or existing herds’ ability to gain CWD-monitored status designations by TAHC.

The counties affected by the proposed rules include El Paso and portions of Hudspeth, Culberson and Reeves.

Map of the proposed Containment Zones and High Risk Zones. Click for larger view.

The proposed TAHC rules would apply to the non-indigenous species of cervid species of Texas under its jurisdiction, including moose, red deer, elk and sika. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is also proposing similar rules for the indigenous cervid specie it regulates, including white-tailed deer and mule deer.

The deadline for comments is 5:00 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012.

TAHC is also proposing amendments to the following:

Chapter 43, “Tuberculosis”

Chapter 45, “Reportable Diseases”

Chapter 49, “Equine, Piroplasmosis

A detailed explanation of each rule proposal, including the CWD rule can be found on the TAHC website at tahc.state.tx.us/regs/proposals.html.

Comments on the proposed regulations must be submitted in writing to Carol Pivonka, Texas Animal Health Commission, 2105 Kramer Lane, Austin, Texas 78758, by fax at 512-719-0721 or by e-mail to comments@tahc.state.tx.us