Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission will hold its first 2021 meeting on January 21-22 when it returns to Chattanooga and the Westin Hotel. The first day portion of the meeting starts at 1 p.m. (EST) Thursday and the second day begins at 9 a.m. Friday.

The latest information on chronic wasting disease (CWD) and disease management in West Tennessee will be presented. The deer hunting season recently concluded the weekend of January 9-10 with the Young Sportsman Deer Hunt.

An amendment to change the start of the fall raptor taking season from September 15 to August 15 each year will be presented. It was changed to August 15 in 2012. It has been noticed that it was inadvertently changed to September15 during the last revision in 2018. This amendment will correct the error.

A presentation on White-nose Syndrome (WNS) will be given. The disease affects the bats and a population decline in Tennessee has been seen since it was first observed in 2010. WNS has been found in 12 of the 16 species of bats found in the state.

The commission will hear an update on the lake sturgeon restoration project. The reintroduction of the native and primitive species into the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers began more than 20 years ago by Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and other partners. The long-term goal of the project is to have a self-sustaining lake sturgeon population.

TFWC last met in Chattanooga in July 2018. In addition, the February 18-19 meeting of TFWC will be held in Franklin at Marriott of Cool Springs.

CWD positive deer confirmed in

Lauderdale County; Henderson County joins high-risk category

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has announced that Lauderdale County has been confirmed as CWD (chronic wasting disease) positive. Henderson County is now classified as CWD High-Risk with the confirmation of CWD in a hunter-harvested deer in Madison County within 10 miles of the Henderson County border.

Lauderdale County was previously CWD High-Risk and as a result, nothing other than its classification changes because deer carcass movement and wildlife feeding restrictions, and Unit CWD hunting regulations have been in effect. Lauderdale County joins Chester, Fayette, Hardeman, Haywood, Madison, Shelby, and Tipton as CWD positive counties.

The CWD-positive confirmation within 10 miles of Henderson County causes it to begin having wildlife feeding and deer carcass movement restrictions to help prevent the spread of CWD. Since deer hunting season has concluded, TWRA will consider changing hunting seasons and bag limits in Henderson County at a later date.

“This news may seem like CWD matters are getting much worse, however, agency biologists were not taken by surprise with these developments,” said Chuck Yoest, TWRA species program manager. “National CWD experts warned agency staff to anticipate finding the disease as far as 200 air miles from the initial detections in Hardeman and Fayette counties in 2018 since prevalence was already high in the counties.”

Since the first detection, TWRA staff have been working diligently to determine what specific areas of southwest Tennessee are impacted and how prevalent the disease is where it does exist. The Lauderdale County detection is the farthest northwest detection and the Madison County detection is the farthest northeast from the original detections in Hardeman and Fayette counties in late 2018.

Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission established the classifications of CWD-Positive and High-Risk counties after the first CWD positive deer were confirmed in West Tennessee and instituted new deer hunting regulations in the counties, including deer carcass exportation and wildlife feeding restrictions to help prevent the spread of the disease, and best manage CWD in Tennessee.

Supplemental feeding of wildlife is banned in CWD-Positive and High-Risk counties. The placement of grains, salt products, and other consumable natural and manufactured products for wildlife is prohibited. The ban does not apply to feed placed within 100 feet of a residence, feed placed in a manner not accessible to deer, or feed and minerals as the result of normal agricultural practices. Food plots are still legal in CWD-Positive and High-Risk counties.