SCDNR Bans Certain Hunting Products Due to "Zombie Deer" Disease

Herd of white-tailed deer looking at camera.

"Zombie Deer Disease" sounds like something from a made-up horror movie, but it's a real thing. The scientific name is Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD. It is a contagious, neurological disease that is always fatal, it eats holes in the deer's brains and makes them lose fear of humans so they seem very zombie-like.

USA today reports:

The disease affects deer's brains and spinal cords through abnormal prion proteins that damage normal prion proteins, the CDC said. The cells collect and eventually burst, leaving behind microscopic empty spaces in the brain matter that give it a “spongy” look, according to the North Carolina Wildlife Commission.
Symptoms, which can take more than a year to develop, include drastic weight loss, lack of coordination, listlessness, drooling, excessive thirst or urination, drooping ears, lack of fear of people and aggression.

The disease has spread across the midwest, but as of right now, there are not any reported cases in South Carolina. To prevent the disease, deer carcasses should be thrown in landfills. SCDNR has also banned certain natural deer lures and attractants.

The SCDNR Ban states:

It is now unlawful in South Carolina to possess or use, for the purpose of hunting or scouting, any substance or material that contains or claims to contain any excretion collected from a deer, including urine, feces, gland oil or other body fluid.
DNR clarified that this does not prohibit the use of synthetic products or substances collected by a hunter from deer legally harvested in South Carolina. Synthetic products will be labeled as such and hunters should assume any unlabeled products contain natural material. 

There's no way to test for the disease in the deer that the urine is collected from, so it is considered unsafe. Many other states have banned the products as a way to try and prevent Zombie deer disease from spreading in SC's deer population. Michigan is spending 4.7 million dollars fighting the disease and claim it is viturally impossible to get rid of it once it starts infecting herds.

It's scary to think about this not only infecting SC deer, but also to wonder whether or not this disease will jump to humans. As of right now, there are no human cases, but officials say if it does transfer, it will most likely happen from humans eating infected meat.

Picture Source: Getty Images

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