February 27, 2013
Nearly $8,000 worth of deer meat was discarded at a Louisiana homeless shelter. It was not spoiled or tainted, and to the employees of the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission, seemed to be perfectly edible. So why was it dumped?
According to CBS Houston, it was because the state health department did not recognize Hunters for the Hungry, a charity that uses hunter donations of meat to feed the needy.
“We didn’t find anything wrong with it,” Rev. Henry Martin, organizer of the homeless shelter, told KTBS. “It was processed correctly, it was packaged correctly.”
The meat was hunter-taken, which the health department deemed unacceptable because “there is no way to verify how the deer were killed, prepared, or stored.”
The department released a statement that said a complaint was lodged against the mission for using deer meat last month. A health inspector was then sent to evaluate the situation and found roughly 1,600 pounds of venison at the location. It was decided the meat could be potentially unsafe even though it was processed at a reputable slaughterhouse in Bellevue. The venison was then destroyed in a process called “denaturing” so animals could not eat the waste after it was thrown out.
“They threw it in the dumpster and poured Clorox on it,” Martin told KTBS. “Not only are we losing out and it’s costing us money, the people that are hungry aren’t going to get as quality of food, the hunter that’s given his meat in good faith is losing out.”
The Louisiana chapter of Hunters for the Hungry could not be reached for comment.
“While we applaud the good intentions of the hunters who donated this meat,” said the department on their Facebook wall, “we must protect the people who eat at Rescue Mission, and we cannot allow a potentially serious health threat to endanger the public. The State Sanitary Code laws exist to protect all residents of our state, and while sometimes these laws may not be popular, they allow us to ensure the public’s health and safety, and must be followed.”
The Department of Health and Hospitals deactivated its Facebook page for a day due to the level of protests from residents after the story broke. Currently, the agency is working with the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to address the future of hunter donations. Discussions will include any changes to legislation that will allow the department to recognize hunter-taken meat as approved foods.
Update: KTBS reports that Foster’s Farm has agreed to donate 1,400 pounds of chicken meat to the mission to replenish their supplies. The Louisiana Cattleman’s Association also stepped in with a $750 check.
Read and join the discussion on Louisiana Homeless Shelter Forced to Waste 1,600 Pounds of Venison at OutdoorHub.com.
February 25, 2013
Hello all, in the previous blog I indicated that I would talk about Toxoplasma gondii and Trichinella spp. in feral pigs. However, recently two rabbit hunters in eastern North Carolina tested positive for tularemia so I decided to address the current event first.
Rabbit hunting is a fantastic hunting experience and I fondly remember many days hunting rabbits with friends and family in northern Indiana. There are many reasons that I enjoy rabbit hunting. First, hunting rabbits can be as simple as walking a field, fencerow, or edge by yourself or with a friend or two. Second, you can wander through the field systematically or haphazardly. Third, you can increase the experience and excitement by working a thick briar patch with a pack of beagles and four or five close friends. Fourth, you can hunt rabbits anytime of the day–you do not have to get up at o’dark thirty. I am sure you have additional reasons that you enjoy rabbit hunting and I would love to hear them. Nevertheless, the excitement when a rabbit breaks cover is hard to beat.
Tularemia is often called rabbit fever, deer fly fever, meat-cutter’s disease, Ohara disease, and Francis disease. It is a zoonotic (can be passed from wildlife to humans) disease caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Francisella tularensis naturally occurs in the environment, can survive in water and soil for weeks, and is common in rabbits, hares, and rodents. In fact, tularemia has been documented in over 150 wildlife species and is responsible for killing large numbers of wild animals. Tularemia occurs primarily in the Northern Hemisphere and has been reported throughout North America, Europe, Asia, northern Africa, and the Middle East, and recently a case was reported in Australia. In the United States, approximately 200 human cases are reported each year with reports from every state except Hawaii.
In rabbits, the symptoms include a white- or yellow-spotted liver and the liver and/or spleen may be a dark bluish-red and appear very swollen. Additionally, you may notice external ulcerations or infected areas where the animal was bitten by a tick or deer fly.
Humans most commonly become infected through skin contact with infected animals (e.g., rabbits), ticks, deer flies, bites from infected cats, eating improperly cooked meat, drinking contaminated water, or inhaling airborne bacteria. In the United States, rabbits are the source of infection in 90 percent of the cases, 70 percent of which comes from the cottontail rabbit genus Sylvilagus (16 species in this genus are recognized worldwide).
The incubation period for tularemia in humans is usually three to five days after exposure but can range from one to 14 days. The signs and symptoms depend on mode of exposure. Possible symptoms include skin ulcers and rashes, swollen and painful lymph nodes, inflamed eyes, sore throat, mouth sores, diarrhea, or pneumonia. If inhaled, symptoms can include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, joint pain, dry cough, and progressive weakness. People with pneumonia can develop chest pain, difficulty breathing, bloody sputum, and respiratory failure. Tularemia can be fatal if not treated with appropriate antibiotics.
Last week, I provided some simple recommendations for hunters who clean feral pigs. Many of the recommendations are the same for rabbits. Hunters should always wear long sleeves, gloves, and eye protection when cleaning any game animal. After cleaning the animal, clean and disinfect all knives, clothing, or cleaning surfaces and absolutely make sure to wash your hands and forearms frequently and carefully with soap and water. Additionally, avoid drinking unfiltered or unclean water from streams and rivers. Insect repellents containing DEET have been shown to help prevent tularemia.
Hunters should avoid eating rabbits that appear in the field to be “lazy” or do not act “normal.” During the cleaning process, be sure to wear gloves, and hunters should examine the external surfaces of the rabbit for any infected areas. ALWAYS check the liver for the appearance of white or yellow spots. Even if the liver appears bright, does not have spots, and the rabbit appeared healthy in the field, make sure to cook the meat thoroughly; F. tularensis are killed by heat above 160 F.
As always, as long as these proper precautions are taken there is no reason not to enjoy your favorite fried or braised rabbit or hasenpfeffer.
Read and join the discussion on Rabbit Hunters Take Note: Steps to Avoid Tularemia at OutdoorHub.com.
February 13, 2013
In the United States, the non-native and invasive feral swine (Sus scrofa) population has quadrupled over the past 10 years and is currently estimated to be approximately 4 million animals ranging across at least 37 states. As the feral swine population expands and feral swine hunting becomes more popular, there is increased interaction and greater potential for disease transmission among feral swine, humans, commercial swine, and wildlife.
From 2007 to 2010, we conducted a disease survey (pdf) of over 600 feral swine across 13 North Carolina counties (where the majority of the state’s commercial swine production occurs). Although a variety of diseases were tested, the most notable results were the detection of the bacteria Brucella suis. Brucella suis is typically screened for by the National Wildlife Disease Program and, until this research, feral swine were antibody-negative in eastern North Carolina. Currently, B. suis does not occur in US domestic swine operations.
The presence of B. suis in a feral swine population that is routinely hunted raises concern about disease transmission to humans. In pigs, B. suis is a bacteria that can cause abortion in pregnant females, reduced milk production, and infertility. Importantly, B. suis is zoonotic (can be transferred from wildlife to humans; once transmitted it is called brucellosis) and can be transmitted to humans through cuts on the skin from handling the infected animals or inhaling the waste product of the animal.
In humans, brucellosis causes a variety of symptoms, such as fever, weight loss, fatigue, weakness, chills, joint pain, headaches and depression. Brucellosis can develop weeks to months after exposure, can last for days to months, and can be debilitating if not treated. Recent cases of B. suis infection in feral swine hunters were linked to butchering of swine but not to consumption of the meat. Diagnosing brucellosis can be difficult because of the wide-ranging and non-specific symptoms. Therefore, it is very important to inform your health care provider if you have come in contact with feral swine. Once identified, brucellosis is treated with antibiotics.
While in the field, there are some simple precautions that hunters should take to protect themself. First, hunters should always were long sleeves, gloves, and eye protection when cleaning any game animal. Your hands may have small cuts and cracks that can provide points for infectious diseases to enter your body. Further, avoiding unprotected direct contact with blood, fecal matter, the brain and spinal cord, and organs will help minimize risks. After cleaning the animal, be sure to clean and disinfect all knives, clothing, or cleaning surfaces and absolutely make sure to wash your hands frequently and carefully with soap and water. Additionally, B. suis transmission can be prevented by properly cooking the meat.
I hope you continue to follow this blog. Next week, I will be highlighting more of our research on feral swine. Specifically, Toxoplasma gondii and Trichinella spp.
Also, I encourage you to ask questions. I will answer them in upcoming blogs.
Read and join the discussion on Feral Swine and Brucellosis: How Hunters Can Minimize Risk at OutdoorHub.com.
January 2, 2013
The Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that the last day to check in deer is Friday, Jan. 4, 2013. The biological data received at deer check stations helps the DNR make scientifically sound management decisions regarding the deer population. Skulls with intact jaws, teeth and antlers are needed for aging the animals.
Check-in is optional. Those who do check in their harvest will receive the 2012 deer management cooperator patch.
Hunters who harvest a deer in Alcona, Alpena, Cheboygan, Crawford, Emmet, Iosco, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda, Otsego, Presque Isle and/or Roscommon county will be asked to submit the head for bovine tuberculosis (TB) testing. For more information on bovine TB, visit www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases.
For a full list of deer check stations and hours of operation, go to www.michigan.gov/deer.
Read and join the discussion on Michigan’s Last Day for Deer Check is Friday at OutdoorHub.com.
December 28, 2012
Many Department of Natural Resources office locations are offering furbearer registration hours for successful trappers and hunters during the 2012-2013 furharvester seasons.
Anyone taking a bobcat, river otter, fisher, marten or incidental catch must bring the animal to a designated furbearer check station for examination.
DNR staff members collect biological data from the harvested animals, including sex, age and physical condition of the specimen. The skull of each specimen will also be retained for tooth and DNA samples. An official seal is then attached to each pelt to show it has been inspected.
“Registration for these furbearers is mandatory, as the information gathered helps us determine proposed bag limits and season structure for the future,” said DNR furbearer specialist Adam Bump. “Cooperation from trappers and hunters in this effort is greatly appreciated.”
The following DNR offices are open for furbearer registration during regular business hours: Please note, due to field staff limitations, all fur harvesters are encouraged to call ahead to ensure someone is available to assist with furbearer registration.)
- Baraga, Bay City, Cadillac, Gaylord, Marquette and Newberry operations service centers
- Cheboygan, Crystal Falls, Escanaba, Gwinn and Norway field offices
DNR offices with specially designated furbearer registration dates and hours are as follows:
- Wakefield: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Central Time) on Jan. 9 & 23; Feb. 6 & 20; March 6 & 20; and April 17
- Stephenson: 4 to 6 p.m. (Central Time) on Jan. 4, Feb. 7, March 7 and May 4
DNR offices that offer furbearer registration by appointment only:
Approximately 40 additional DNR locations (including operations service centers, field offices, state game areas and state parks) offer furbearer registration during normal business hours by appointment only.
Trappers and hunters must call ahead to ensure staff availability at locations that require an appointment. For a full list of locations, including contact information, visit www.michigan.gov/trapping.
Non-DNR locations open for furbearer registration include:
- U.S. Forest Service Office in Manistique, by appointment only
- U.S. Forest Service Office in Rapid River, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. M-F
- Settler’s Co-op in Bruce Crossing, by appointment only
Trappers and furbearer hunters are reminded that they must register their own take and cannot register for others. Complete details and instructions for furbearer registration can be found in the 2012 Michigan Hunting and Trapping Guide, which is available online at www.michigan.gov/hunting, at DNR operations service centers, and at authorized license vendors statewide.
For more information about furbearer registration, contact Adam Bump at 517-373-1263, or call one of the DNR offices listed above.
Read and join the discussion on Furbearer Registration Hours Offered at Many Michigan DNR Locations at OutdoorHub.com.
December 17, 2012
Top five counties unchanged from last season
Hunters checked 14,365 white-tailed deer during Ohio’s extra gun-hunting weekend, Dec. 15-16, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
That total is a decline of 14.3 percent from 2011, when hunters harvested 16,766 deer. In 2010, hunters bagged 20,916 deer over the same time period.
“The overall size of the deer herd is smaller, and the harvest is aligned with that decrease,” said Mike Tonkovich, ODNR Division of Wildlife deer project leader. “We anticipated the 2012-2013 deer season harvest would be down 5 to 10 percent from last year. Most of Ohio’s counties are above their target deer harvest number, and we have worked to get those numbers closer to the target through generous harvest regulations.”
The counties reporting the highest numbers of deer checked during the 2012 deer-gun hunting weekend: Coshocton (489), Tuscarawas (483), Muskingum (474), Licking (444), Harrison (390), Belmont (387), Guernsey (382), Carroll (375), Ashtabula (372) and Knox (356). The top five counties remained unchanged from last year.
The extra gun-hunting weekend was first offered in 2006 in response to hunters’ request for an increase in the amount of weekend days to pursue deer. Hunters still have opportunities to pursue deer this winter. Archery season remains open through Feb. 3, 2013. The statewide muzzleloader season is Jan. 5-8, 2013.
The white-tailed deer is the most popular game animal in Ohio, frequently pursued by generations of hunters. Ohio ranks eighth nationally in annual hunting-related sales and 10th in the number of jobs associated with hunting-related industries. Hunting has an $859 million economic impact in Ohio through the sale of equipment, fuel, food, lodging and more.
Hunters are encouraged to donate any extra venison to organizations assisting Ohioans in need. ODNR Division of Wildlife is collaborating with Farmers and Hunters Feeding the Hungry (FHFH) to help pay for the processing of donated venison. Hunters who donate deer are not required to pay the processing cost as long as the deer are taken to a participating processor. To see which counties are involved in this program, go to fhfh.org.
Ohio’s first modern day deer-gun season opened in 1943 in three counties, and hunters harvested 168 deer. Deer hunting was allowed in all 88 counties in 1956, and hunters killed 3,911 deer during that one-week season.
Read and join the discussion on Hunters Harvest More Than 14,000 Deer during Ohio’s Deer-gun Weekend at OutdoorHub.com.
December 11, 2012
Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division staff will hold furbearer registration hours at the Wakefield and Stephenson field offices on specific dates and times in December, January and February.
Furbearer registration will take place at the Wakefield Field Office, located at 1405 US-2 East in Wakefield, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Central Time on the following dates: Dec. 12, Dec. 19, Jan. 9, Jan. 23, Feb. 6, Feb. 20, March 6, March 20 and April 17.
Questions about furbearer registration at the Wakefield Field Office may be directed to the DNR’s Baraga Operations Service Center: 906-353-6651.
Furbearer registration will take place at the Stephenson Field Office, located at West 5420 River Road in Stephenson, on the following dates: Dec. 11, 4-7 p.m.; Jan. 4, by appointment; Feb. 7, 4-6 p.m.; March 7, 4-6 p.m.; May 4, 4-6 p.m. (all times are Central Time).
Questions about furbearer registration at the Stephenson Field Office may be directed to the DNR’s Escanaba Field Office: 906-786-2351.
In addition to the special furbearer registration hours in Wakefield and Stephenson, DNR Operations Service Centers are open during normal business hours for registration and sealing. Field offices may also be able to register and seal pelts during normal business hours, but trappers and hunters must call ahead to ensure staff availability. For OSC and field office locations, visit www.michigan.gov/hunting.
Anyone taking a bobcat, river otter, fisher, marten or incidental catches must bring the animal to a designated furbearer check station for examination. DNR staff members collect biological data from the harvested animals, including sex, age and physical condition of the specimen. The skull of each specimen will also be retained for tooth and DNA samples.
Registration of these furbearers is mandatory; an official seal is attached to each pelt to show it has been inspected.
Trappers and furbearer hunters are reminded that they must register their own take and cannot register for others. Complete details and instructions for furbearer registration can be found in the 2012 Michigan Hunting and Trapping Digest, which is available online at www.michigan.gov/hunting, at DNR Operations Service Centers and authorized license vendors statewide.
For more information about furbearer registration, contact wildlife biologist Brian Roell at 906-228-6561 or call one of the DNR offices listed above.
Read and join the discussion on Michigan DNR to Hold Furbearer Registration at Wakefield and Stephenson Field Offices at OutdoorHub.com.
December 10, 2012
Preliminary data collected from game checking stations across the state indicate deer hunters in West Virginia harvested 56,173 bucks during the two-week buck firearms season, which ran from November 19 through December 1, according to Frank Jezioro, Director of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR). The 2012 buck harvest was seven percent less than the 2011 harvest of 60,157. The top 10 counties for buck harvest were as follows: Preston (2,108), Greenbrier (1,907), Randolph (1,792), Mason (1,667), Jackson (1,662), Hampshire (1,570), Monroe (1,563), Ritchie (1,518), Wetzel (1,496) and Hardy (1,435).
This year’s buck harvest is slightly less than last year, with decreases occurring in four of the six DNR districts. The largest percent decreases occurred in the western and central counties of the state. The harvest was 27th among all recorded antlered buck firearm seasons. This year’s preliminary buck harvest remains seven percent below the previous five-year average of 60,236.
Wildlife biologists and wildlife managers collected age-specific biological information at checking stations in 24 counties this year and preliminary analysis indicate antler development was good. The dry weather was good for hunter participation this year but made moving in the woods noisy. Deer densities that were more in balance with the habitat in many areas, combined with the better-than-average acorn crop that allowed deer to frequent open fields less frequently, made this year’s deer season challenging for many hunters. Residual access problems associated with Hurricane Sandy, such as downed trees blocking forest roads, may have hindered the ability of some buck hunters to reach their favorite hunting spots, especially in some of the high mountain counties.
Wildlife biologists will analyze data from the combined 2012 deer seasons (i.e., buck, antlerless, archery and muzzleloader) before making appropriate recommendations for next year’s deer hunting seasons. These recommendations will be available for public review at 12 regulations meetings scheduled for March 18 and 19, 2013. (See page 5 of the current 2012 – 2013 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary or visit the DNR Web site at www.wvdnr.gov for scheduled meeting locations.)
Director Jezioro reminds hunters that several days of deer hunting opportunity still remain for 2012. The traditional antlerless deer season in selected counties on both public and private land opens December 13 and runs through December 15. The Youth, Class Q/QQ and Class XS deer season (antlerless deer only) will be open on December 26 – 27 in any county with a firearms deer season, and will be followed by the reopening of Class N/NN antlerless deer season on December 28 – 31 in 48 counties or portions of counties. (See the 2012 – 2013 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary or visit the DNR Web site at www.wvdnr.gov for county and area listings.)
Read and join the discussion on Deer Hunters in West Virginia Harvest 56,173 Bucks during the Buck Firearms Season at OutdoorHub.com.
December 10, 2012
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is advising hunters to call a local LDWF field office when problems are encountered with the phone-in, deer tag validation process.
Some hunters have experienced difficulty with the voice recognition system linked to the toll-free phone number 866-484-4805 that collects information on harvested deer and validates the individual’s deer tag, the final step in reporting harvest data to LDWF.
Wildlife Division staff at field offices around the state will accept and record tag validation information (date and parish of harvest) from hunters to complete the process as needed. Hunters having difficulty are encouraged to call the field offices during normal work hours for personal assistance with validating their harvest. LDWF field offices are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except holidays, in the following locations:
- Monroe ph. 318-343-4044
- Minden ph. 318-371-3050
- Pineville ph. 318-487-5885
- Lake Charles ph. 337-491-2575
- Hammond ph. 985-543-4777
- Opelousas ph. 337-948-0255
- Baton Rouge ph. 225-765-2346
Deer hunters have seven days to validate each tag used for a deer harvested this season. Hunters also have the option to validate their deer tags seven days a week, any time of the day, on-line via www.la.wildlifelicense.com.
Read and join the discussion on Louisiana DWF Advises Hunters to Call Field Offices for Tag Validation Problems at OutdoorHub.com.
December 6, 2012
Preliminary reports received from 140 agents throughout Vermont indicate this year’s rifle season harvest total is slightly higher than the average for the previous three years, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
As of December 4, 2012, with numbers still coming in, it was reported that hunters harvested 4,897 deer during the November rifle season. The average harvest as of this date for the previous three years was 4,867 deer. Final numbers will be tallied after all reports have been turned in and the information has been reviewed for accuracy.
Archery harvest totals are also up slightly to 2,915, compared with an average of 2,484 deer reported on the same date over the last three years. Results for youth weekend are still being tallied, but appear to be at or above the previous three year average. Vermont’s whitetail population is healthy, and the antler restriction that started in 2005 has resulted in more numerous and older bucks in the deer population.
“Hunters this year saw the benefits of managing for deer herd health,” said Adam Murkowski, deer biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “Preliminary analysis has shown that not only are more deer being harvested this year but the physical condition of these deer is indicative of a healthy and robust population.”
Harvest results will not be complete until all agents send in their reports after the muzzleloader and second archery seasons end on December 9.
A detailed annual deer harvest report will be available on the department’s website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) by early March. You can read previous reports on the department website under “Hunting and Trapping,” by clicking on “Big Game” and then on “Big Game Harvest Reports.” The reports contain information hunters need to understand the health of their deer herd and provides information on making informed harvest decisions.
“Hunters shouldn’t stop thinking about deer just because Vermont’s hunting seasons are coming to a close,” added Murkowski. “Hunters wishing to know what steps they can take to improve the areas they hunt for deer should visit the department’s website and the Big Game Harvest Report for more information on deer herd management.”
Hunters continue to provide the means for managing Vermont’s white-tailed deer populations across the state. Post-hunt deer densities in most regions of the state remain at levels within management objectives set in Vermont’s big game plan for 2010–2020, which is also available on the department’s website.
There are regions in the state where some people feel there are either too many or too few deer. Deer management will always be a balancing act and require a continuous series of corrections to keep Vermont’s deer populations abundant, but not overabundant, for all Vermonters to enjoy now and in the future. Vermont’s annual deer hunt yields more than 800,000 pounds of local, nutritious venison worth millions of dollars in food value alone.
Read and join the discussion on Slight Rise in Number of Deer Harvested during Vermont Rifle Season at OutdoorHub.com.