National Wildlife Federation Outdoors

Now What? CWD is Here for the Foreseeable future – Living with and Managing that Reality with Matt Dunfee.

April 21, 2022

In the final episode of the CWD Chronicles, we bring back Matt Dunfee from the Wildlife Management Institute to put a bow on the series, help us affirm good information, throw away bad information, respond to listener questions, and look to the future of managing and living with CWD.



Recent and Ongoing CWD Research and Management Projects:

CWD in North America:

Carcass Importation Regulations:

CWD-Related Hunting Regulations:

Show notes:

5:14 – Aaron shares a little background on Matt for those who didn’t catch episode one.

6:34 – Quick overview of previous topics covered in the CWD Chronicles Episodes 1-5.

9:18 – Ashley shares a few other things that we hope to look at as we wrap up this series.

*A few take-aways from previous episodes: Get tested. Support intensive management actions when necessary. Don’t congregate animals.

11:53 – Within the past six months, we have four new states with CWD positive tests!

13:09 – Matt reflects on the broader picture which has been reinforced over this series.

“The first one is never the first one, we find this disease as we test more for it.”

17:00 – Aaron chips in that in this episode we are highlighting questions from our listeners.

19:05 – First listener question from John Matis in Loveland, CO.

John says: I’d like to know why all the deer aren’t dead?  If chronic wasting disease is so contagious, and results in 100% fatalities, then why haven’t all the deer and elk died? Or is there genetic selection taking place, where the animals are developing immunity or resistance to the disease? Why not let natural selection take place? 

21:57 – Can a fawn be born CWD positive? Ashley points out that younger populations have other implications beyond just total numbers.

24:50 – Second listener question from Gary Maerz in Westbury, NY.

Gary asks: Have state agencies considered a program that allows the issuance of additional tags if a hunter harvests a CWD positive deer, after verified by testing?

29:08 – Third listener question from Austin Moon in Cheyenne, WY.

Austin asks: Why is CWD more prevalent in deer than in other ungulates?

34:07 – Fourth listener question from Sarah Mueller in Pennsylvania.
Sarah says: We are just now on the edge of the CWD zone, should I get my deer tested? Can I eat the meat if it’s CWD positive? I’m nervous about using my good knives to butcher if I get prions that will never come off on them. Other states have lived with CWD for years but Pennsylvania is pretty new – how do I navigate this?

38:00 – Ashley asks about the potential of prions penetrating the handles of her knives.

39:00 – Aaron asks if we, as a sporting community, should just take on as a sporting community that everyone should get tested 100% of the time.

43:22 – Should we be testing pronghorn if they are harvested in a CWD hot zone given the fact that the disease has been documented to jump species?

“When nothing is sure, anything is possible.”

45:43 - Unpacking the logistics of universal testing. Meaning that every cervid out there is tested.

54:50 - What if every research project out there at any given point could take a tiny “punch” sample from their ears for surveillance and tracking disease distribution.

1:00:47 - How can the nonsporting public engage in the issues regarding CWD? Taking a look at the North American model of wildlife conservation.

1:05:50 - It seems like there’s not really an end point in sight. Matt discusses some simple things to consider regarding wildlife conservation, getting involved, hunting with CWD on the mind, etc.

“This is your heritage. Treat it as such.”

1:07:34 - Pointing to the future, looking at a crystal ball, where are we at in 20 years?

1:12:46 - How can we bridge the gap of being in it 100% or just putting the blinders on because folks are bored of dealing with CWD. “Rather than getting angry and just calling someone an idiot, let’s get curious and say where did you get that perspective… let me listen to yours so you will listen to mine. We know as humans that gets us a lot more ground than shame, gilt or ridicule.”

1:15:30 – Closing statements from Ashley and Aaron.

“If everyone would listen to this podcast series, I think we would get where we need to go. This is definitely a long form conversation and I think at the end of this if folks do take the time to listen to the whole thing, they can come to a good solid perspective on not just CWD but a lot of other things.”

-Matt Dunfee, the Wildlife Management Institute

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