According to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, additional cases of chronic wasting disease were confirmed in Mississippi this week.

“These were two additional Benton County positives,” said Rush Walsh, MDWFP Wildlife Bureau executive director. “It was a buck and a doe harvested there earlier this month.

“It was a 4½-year-old male hunter-harvested in early January. She (the doe) was a 3-year-old female that was hunter-harvested. That’s three in Benton County. If you look at the map, they are all on the state line.”

Because the three Benton County positives were found near the state line, Walsh said they appear to be the result of CWD in Tennessee where over 90 cases have been found so far. Due to the location, the boundaries of the northern CWD Management Zone remain the same.

Chronic wasting disease affects members of the deer family such as white-tailed deer and elk. It slowly causes holes to develop in infected animals’ brains and is considered to be 100 percent fatal. Clinical signs of the disease include emaciation, listlessness and walking in a set pattern.

The total number of cases in Mississippi now stands at 11. It was first discovered in Mississippi in Jan. 2018 when a hunter watched an emaciated buck die in Issaquena County. Since Oct. 2018, over 6,500 deer have been tested across the state, a number well above the department’s target of 5,000 deer.

“The hunters deserve a tremendous amount of credit for responding,” Walsh said. “We greatly appreciate the hunting public for participating in this process.”

Hunting season for deer ends today for the majority of the state. In the Southeast Zone it remains open until Feb 15. While participation in the testing process has been higher than expected overall, it has been low in the Southeast Zone and Walsh asks hunters in that zone to submit more samples.

“We’re still behind down there,” Walsh said. “It’s quite obvious the difference in the number of samples from the rest of the state and that zone.”