“Zombie Deer” – This may sound a bit like a low-budget commercial B film that airs on the science fiction channels late at night; however, Nevada wildlife regulators have said they are real and working hard to keep it out of the state.
The Las Vegas Sun reported that zombie deer is related to animals that contract a high contagious and chronic wasting disease characterized by the symptoms of lethargy, emaciation, and lack of fear of humans. The disease can destroy deer and elks.
Peregrine Wolff, a wildlife veterinarian with Nevada Department of Wildlife, said officials are working to keep zombie deer out of the state by conducting tests on dead animals and monitoring the state’s border with Utah for migratory deer and elks.
In fact, earlier this year, Nevada legislators passed a law that does not allow certain carcasses to enter the state in an effort to prevent and stop the spread of the disease.
So far, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and the eastern region of Utah have reported animals with the disease.
Zombie deer is not caused by any bacteria or virus but it is transmitted by certain protein particles that are associated with brain conditions similar to mad cow disease. It damages the brain tissues, causing abnormal behavior. The condition is irreversible and incurable.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has raised concern that it may pose a great threat to human beings.
Wolff said, “It’s not a matter of if – it’s a matter of when. We know that we can’t wrap Nevada in a bubble.”
J.J. Goicoechea, a veterinarian with Nevada Department of Agriculture, said the same when discussing the law passed by the state legislators earlier this year. “In talking with Utah and talking with Idaho, high likelihood, with time. In watching the patterns as they progress through Colorado into Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, up into Montana now, it’s spreading. And it is going to spread into Nevada,” said Goicoechea. “We want to do everything we can. I don’t want it to be because of something we did not do, that we did not try to firewall that.”