Session of the Week: TWS conference will feature CWD management symposia



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As chronic wasting disease spreads across North America and even into Europe, wildlife biologists, managers and academics face concerns about the best ways to look for the disease, manage it and prevent it from spreading.

During the upcoming annual TWS conference in Cleveland, Ohio, a symposium put together by the TWS Wildlife Diseases Working Group, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians will feature best management practices for the disease affecting deer, elk and moose.

In the coming months, AFWA will release best management practices guidance for surveillance, management and control of CWD. The guidance is meant to help state and provincial wildlife officials deal with the disease.

“The goal of the document is to provide directors, administrators and managers with an account of current tools and recommendations available so they can craft and implement their own suite of management practices to help in the fight against CWD on a state or provincial scale,” said Colin Gillen, chair of the project working group and editor of the best management practices.

“We knew that AFWA was putting together a document with best management practices, and it was going to be hugely beneficial,” said Margaret Wild, the past chair of the Wildlife Diseases Working Group and co-organizer of the symposia. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool to actually have the experts who wrote these chapters come together and share these ideas about what they’ve learned and best management practices to consider?’”

Speakers will include Dr. John Fischer, director of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study and a leader in the policy fight against CWD, and Jennifer Ballard with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Mary Wood with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, both of whom have had firsthand experience managing chronic wasting disease. Other experts include Ryan Maddox with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who will speak about public health considerations.

Overall, the symposia will offer information for state agencies planning for surveillance or management for the disease. “This symposium is meant for the whole breadth of people who are interested in chronic wasting disease, from a novice trying to get prevention and surveillance plans in place to experienced professionals working with chronic wasting disease for decades,” Wild said.

The goal of the symposia is to improve management of the disease by presenting tools and ideas using the best science available, she said.

“I hope everybody who is interested in a very important wildlife disease issue, chronic wasting disease, will join us at the symposium,” Wild said. “It’s probably particularly important and informative for the state wildlife managers and also people in academia who want to learn about what are the gaps in research that need to be addressed. We welcome people who care about deer and elk and moose and want to know about what we can do to protect them from this devastating disease.”