The talk around “zombie deer disease” surfaced this month when a researcher from the University of Minnesota asked the Minneosota legislature for almost $2 million to study “zombie deer disease.”
He compared it to “mad cow disease” which did make its way from cows to humans.
Chronic wasting disease was discovered in Colorado in the 1970s. Some also refer to it as ‘zombie deer.’
“Zombie defined is a corpse been brought back to life,” said Travis Lowe, Executive Director at the Elk Research Foundation.
“216 cases of CWD in the state in the last 20 years out of the 27,000 that have been tested,” said Lowe.
That’s 0.008% of deer in the entire state of Kansas since 1996.
“The term zombie deer that’s floating across the nation right now is engendering all these fearful images which is really doing a gross exaggeration and misrepresentation of chronic wasting disease,” said Lowe.
The National Institutes of Health said there is no evidence that CWD has made its way to humans.
“I went out with my dad and my uncles hunting ever since I could walk,” said Jon Reed.
Jon Reed is an avid hunter and his kids are quickly learning from their dad. He’s concerned about how this will influence the next generation of hunting.
“But how can we get them involved in an American pastime and get them outside if we make them scared of the outdoors?” said Reed.
He has never seen one of the diseased deer in his time hunting all over Kansas.
“I see hundreds if not thousands a year and I have never seen any cases of CWD,” said Reed.
The Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism said you probably won’t come across one of these deer.
“It’s a cruel world out there, there are lots of things that want to eat deer. There’s pneumonia and there’s things they succumb to when they’re weak,” said Brad Loveless.
There are some ways you can spot the infected deer and avoid hunting them.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism said the animals may be stumbling. The deer may also be drooling and look weak.
If you hunt a deer and would like to get it tested just to be safe, you can send a brain tissue sample to the Kansas State Diagnostic Laboratory. They will check if it is okay to eat.