AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A disease fatal to deer has been found in the panhandle, and now some area hunters will be required by law to help track it.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a rare and fatal neurological disease that affects deer and elk.
Biologists said there was a slim chance it would show up in the panhandle, but late last year an infected deer was found in Hartley County.
Now all deer hunters in one part of the panhandle will have to help prevent the disease from spreading.
Starting this deer hunting season, all deer harvested north of Highway 60 and west of US 287 will have to be tested for CWD.
Hunters will be required to turn in samples of each deer they kill within 24 hours of hunting it.
Sample takers will need the quartered deer, and will take a sample from the head.
"You can leave this containment zone and surveillance zone, but you've got to come give us a sample first," said wildlife biologist James Hoskins. "That way if it comes back positive we can let you know that it's positive. Did you dispose of the head properly? Did you eat the meat?"
Test results will come back in 2-3 weeks.
While the CDC said never to eat a diseased animal, CWD does not affect humans and no negative side effects have been directly correlated to eating dear with the disease.
Texas Parks and Wildlife will have 2 check points set up in Dalhart and Vega that will open November 5th.
The Dalhart check point will be in Lake Rita Blanca State Park behind Rita Blanca Coliseum.
The Vega check point will be in the Walnut RV park off Route 66.
If hunters do not bring their deer to get tested, it's a Class C Misdemeanor for illegal harvesting of a deer.
Parks and Wildlife is working to educate hunters on this change so they do not accidentally break the law.
"I went and got my hunting license and luckily something came up where I had to pull out the regulation book, and that's how I found out about CWD," said longtime deer hunter Randy Blades. "I think a lot of people just go hunting and won't know that they're supposed to check their deer in."
Blades thinks these check points will be inconvenient, but Hoskins said it's one of the most effective ways to track this disease.
CWD has no cure, but finding which areas in the panhandle have infected deer can help limit its spread.
"Our goal is to try to limit that movement and also figure out where this disease is located and how prevalent it is in the natural environment, how many animals actually have this disease," said Hoskins.
Hunters who want to learn more about CWD management can attend a public meeting Thursday at 7 p.m at the downtown branch of the Amarillo Public Library.