EnvironmentQuick Hits: Zombie Deer + Armadillo Invasion

Quick Hits: Zombie Deer + Armadillo Invasion

Chronic Wasting Disease in deer spreads to Tennessee

Wildlife officials in Tennessee are implementing an emergency plan after at least 13 deer in Fayette and Hardeman counties have been diagnosed with chronic wasting disease (CWD). The disease is a deadly neurological disorder and is also known as “zombie deer disease.” In CWD the brains of deer, moose, and elk develop holes that lead to weight loss, loss of energy, poor balance and coordination, drooling, excessive thirst or urination, drooping ears, more aggressive behavior and eventually death. Deer hunted in Fayette and Hardeman counties must remain there, except meat with all the bones removed, antlers with no tissue attached, tanned hides and finished taxidermy products. Starting December 29, hunters killing deer in the CWD zone are required to check for testing at sampling and check stations with the counties. CWD has now been found in 24 states including Virginia, West Virginia, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. Humans cannot contract CWD.


Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to resign

After nearly two years in office, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke will leave his position at the end of the year. Zinke, a former Navy SEAL and member of Montana’s Congress, billed himself as an outdoorsman who believed in protecting public lands. Yet during his tenure, Zinke oversaw the largest rollbacks in federal land protections in US history and opened up huge swaths of water for coastal drilling. He also racked up a number of potential ethics violations, triggering at least 17 inquiries, probes and investigations into his conduct. In perhaps his most famous move, Zinke recommended shrinking the size of 10 national monuments including Bear Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante monuments in Utah, rolling back protections on 2 million acres of federal lands. Trump announced on Twitter that he would name Zinke’s replacement in the upcoming weeks.


Armadillos are invading the Midwest

Armadillos are native to South America but one species, the nine-banded armadillo, arrived in Texas in 1849. There it stayed until recent years when armadillos began making their way north. In 1996 the nine-banded armadillo was documented only as far north as the Missouri River but in 2014, researches found that the armadillos had crossed the Mississippi River into southern Illinois. They’ve since been spotted in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and Wisconsin. “We’re on the cusp of an armadillo invasion,” Michael Beran told the Associated Press. Beran runs the company Wildlife Command Center that picks up roadkill in St. Louis County in Missouri. Armadillos need bugs and water to survive and can live in any area with a minimum average daily temperature of 18 degrees in January. As winters grow warmer across the US, armadillos are finding new places to call home.

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